Sarah Day loves styling, “I love up-dos; creative molding, sculpturing… That’s what I like to do!” Sarah is an Urban Retreat hair stylist and an educator and platform artist for Kérastase and Shu Uemura, two of the three hair product lines at Urban Retreat.
Sarah is a Houston native who attended Texas Tech on a volleyball scholarship who always dreamed of being a hair stylist. We sat down with Sarah to get the scoop on her recent visits to New York City to train with Kérastase and Shu Uemura for styling at New York Fashion Week in the fall!
The classes focused on couture braided up-dos and looks from the Kérastase Paris Bridal Couture Collection, perfect for Urban Retreat’s spring and summer brides. The beautiful bridal up-dos would also be perfect for lounging poolside or getting hair off of the neck in the summer to keep cool.
You recently went to New York City to learn about a new style line from Kérastase. Can you give us any details?
Sarah: Kérastase is launching 11 new products this summer. One of them is called Powder Bluff and it’s a dry-texture spray shampoo. If you’re oily you can spray it in and it takes the grease out; it makes your blow-dry last a little longer. It’s also a texture spray, so it has a little bit of grit to it.
Another one I really like is Forme Fatale. It’s a blow-drying gel. It gives hair a ton of volume and it has memory in it so you can expand the volume or bring it back down. It’s fun!
We saw some amazing up-dos in the photos you sent us! What did you learn while you were in New York?
Sarah: All of the up-dos are gorgeous. Two of the classes for Kérastase were Braids Couture I and Braids Couture II. Braids Couture II is all up-dos with braiding. My favorite one is called the Infinity Rose and it actually looks like a rose. It’s all braids!
One of the up-dos for Shu Uemura is called “The Art of Sewing” and you really sew the entire thing with a needle and thread – not one pin! It’s fun, you can create shapes with a needle and thread better than a bobby pin because bobby pins make it flatter sometimes.
Between Shu Uemura and Kérastase we learned 14 different braids. We’re braiding machines, now! We’re incorporating those with some up-dos. It’s exciting.
We learned a spiral braid for Kérastase… You take a portion starting around the eyebrow and French braid the hair. You take a braid and are only adding from one side and you work around. It’s a lot of fun!
For bridal, we have one look that’s very forties – glamorous waves.
We heard you’ll be at Spring/Summer 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York?
What hair products are you crazy about right now?
Sarah: Hands-down, one of my favorite Kérastase products is Nectar Thermique. All of their Thermiques are thermal protectants and the nectar is concentrated on moisturizing the hair. You can use it on almost anyone – it’s not super weighty so it doesn’t make hair greasy or weigh it down. I love it!
My favorite Shu Uemura product is the Essence Absolute. It’s made with Camellia Oil, so it doesn’t get greasy. People with fine hair freak out when they see the word oil, but Camellia Oil absorbs into the hair five times faster than any other oil on the market right now. It doesn’t get greasy or rich.
Here at Urban Retreat we’re incredibly excited about the new Sciton laser we invested in for our laser hair removal, skin tightening and photo-facial services. There are only 15 of these machines in the Houston area! If you follow us on Facebook, you might have noticed a few posts about our laser already. We’re so excited about the new machine that in April we started rolling out 12 months of laser promotions to celebrate! We will announce our promotions on our Facebook page, so be sure to “like” Urban Retreat and share these special promotions with your friends. We sat down for a Q&A with our “Laser Ladies”, Mari and Sarah, to get the inside scoop about what makes the laser services at Urban Retreat so special.
Mari is from St. Louis and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. She studied hotel and restaurant management at the University of Houston before going back to school to become an aesthetician, where she fell in love with lasers because of their instant results. In her time away from Urban Retreat, she maintains three antique booths at Northwest Mall.
Sarah is from Houston, but lived in Dallas for a few years. She moved back to Houston for the laid-back atmosphere and the diversity. Sarah has spent time working with plastic surgeons, but prefers the family atmosphere at Urban Retreat and the ability to spend more time getting to know her clients. In her free time she takes care of her little boy and spends time with her 100-year-old grandfather.
Before we get into details about the laser, let’s start with some basic skincare questions. What’s the biggest mistake you see women making with their skincare?
Sarah: Not being conscious of the sun! Not using a skincare regimen past thirty. Just using Dove soap without moisturizing doesn’t cut it.
Mari: Not cleaning skin or picking at it.
What skincare routine would you recommend for the average woman?
Sarah: First, relax about getting older! I see so many women who are terrified. There are a few women who will come in and make me look foreword to aging, because they’re so relaxed about it! Take responsibility and do your part to take care of yourself. We can’t just rely on good genes.
Mari: You should cleanse morning and night; get off the makeup the dirt and debris. Use a toner – not all people use toners, but I use a toner because I like that tightening feeling or that clean feeling. Then eye cream. Use serums if you need them. As you get older, add anti-aging products. Everyone should use a good moisturizer. And of course, use a good sunscreen. You should wear sunscreen every day.
Sarah: Definitely, once you hit 30, use some kind of retinol. Retinol helps even out your skin tone and will help you shed that top layer of skin so you have nice smooth skin.
If you have acne, come in and get a Société Oxygen Facial and Blue Light Therapy.
Mari: We shed our skin every 28 days and as we age you get a buildup of that dead skin because it’s not shedding. That’s why a Clarisonic brush is so good to use; it helps get rid of that layer of dead skin. That allows products to penetrate deeper so they can do their job.
Can you tell us more about the Clarisonic brush?
Mari: The Clarisonic brush is just a deep form of exfoliation. It can help with acne. A rosacea client probably needs to use it every second day instead of every day. If you have rosacea, find a routine that works for your skin, depending on how sensitive your skin is. But almost everyone can use a Clarisonic brush. Washcloths are not good to use; they hold a lot of bacteria. A brush doesn’t. It gives a nice refreshed feeling to your skin; it feels clean.
Your skin is glowing! Tell me about what you do to maintain it.
Mari: Believe it or not, it wasn’t always that way. I used to suffer from adult acne, but I got off diet sodas. Photo-facials, good skincare products, a lot of exfoliation and Clarisonic brushes all helped.
What ingredients would you recommend that clients look for when they’re choosing products?
Mari: Glycolics, salicylic acid, peptides, retinols… It really depends on the skin type. A good aesthetician can recommend a skincare line for you, and we have two great ones here: Société Clinical Skincare and DermaQuest. We can suggest the best skin care for you skin type and your concerns.
What is special about Société Clinical Skincare and DermaQuest? What is medical grade skincare?
Mari: They’re medical grade, so you have to have a medical director on staff to carry those lines. You can’t find them at a department store or a drug store. The difference between medical grade products and drugstore or department store products is the quality of the ingredients and the delivery system.
To give you an example, there are 150 green teas out there. You pick up a product and you think “Oh, it has green tea in this, it must be good for my skin,” Well, if it’s not the right green tea for that particular skin type and that product, then it doesn’t matter if it has green tea in it. That’s why there are $5 vitamin C products and $500 dollar Vitamin C products; it’s the quality of the ingredients and the type. Société tends to be a plant-based pharmaceutical grade line. They are mostly organic, but they have science behind them. The fact that they’re medical grade makes them unique. I took a class from DermaQuest before I started with Urban Retreat and I fell in love with their products. I was excited to see them come into the spa.
What makes the Sciton laser we have at Urban Retreat so unique?
Mari: There are only about 15 of these machines in the Houston area. This is not an old machine; it is very gentle. It has a high comfort level compared to other lasers out there and it’s efficient.
Clients are pleasantly surprised; there’s a lot of fear and trepidation before that first appointment. But after that first appointment, they say, “You know, it’s not that bad,” and I know it’s not because I’ve used other lasers and I’ve worked other places before.
There is definitely a difference in machines and the comfort level they deliver. The price point of this laser means it is a more sophisticated machine. The technology is better. They have perfected some of the things that make it more comfortable than other lasers and it’s effective on a wide range of skin types.
What would you say to someone who has had laser treatments previously and experienced discomfort?
Mari: I have mystery shopped other places to see what other lasers are like and what the experience is like. My first job out of school was for a company with $80,000 lasers and they were very uncomfortable – you could burn someone more easily with those lasers. With this laser it is hard to burn someone. There is a lot more comfort.
With a lot of women there’s a fear factor to getting laser for the first time. What would you say to someone who’s intimidated by laser?
Mari: I think by the time I explain what to expect and set guidelines, most people are calm. I’ve helped them understand the process and made it less scary. I think it’s important that we communicate with clients, ask questions and address concerns. I usually ease into it and ask questions about how it feels throughout the process. By the time it’s done, I’ve had people thank me.
Sarah: Once you get the laser onto their skin you need to get feedback and talk to them, because you can’t feel what they feel. I always tell them, “Just let me know if it’s too much heat.”
Mari: With lasers, you feel heat and then you’ll feel coolness, or you’ll feel coolness and then heat, depending on what band you use. Broadband lasers have a lot of light and that’s usually what scares people. Laser is a process. We’re so used to instant gratification, but this is not instant gratification. A lot of the things we do are maintenance to prevent aging or slow aging down.
Who are the best candidates for laser treatments?
Mari: For hair removal, the best candidate is someone who is pale with dark hair. The laser needs high contrast to work; it can’t differentiate between white hair and blonde skin, or dark hair and dark skin. Hair removal is a longer process for someone who doesn’t have a dark hair and lighter skin. Hair removal is semi-permanent; hormonal hair cannot be targeted. You may come in for maintenance once a year, once every six months or you may never come in again. There is a small percentage of the population who doesn’t respond at all. But I can honestly say in my time here, maybe only two people didn’t respond.
For skin tightening, the best candidates are almost anyone except those with darker skin-tones. The laser can cause hyper pigmentation and darker skin tones are more prone to hyper pigmentation. The same goes for a photo-facial. We don’t want to scar the skin.
If a client comes in with darker skin that might hyper pigment, what do you recommend instead of lasers?
Mari: We can do the laser hair removal, in some cases. But I would refer them to one of our aestheticians here at the spa. They do great facials that can be tailored for their individual needs.
How does laser hair removal work?
Mari: Laser targets the weakest pigment first; so there are some patchy spots where it keeps growing for a while. Hormonal hair is the hardest to remove. Sometimes that takes a while to get rid of; it is a commitment. But if you think about coming in every month for a waxing, it’s the same sort of commitment with a laser. The difference is that with a laser you will eventually be able to stop coming in.
I know that I would have to go home and shave after I would wax. I started lasering my armpits in school, before I ever came to Urban Retreat, and it’s nice not have to shave those underarms! It’s nice not have razor bumps or ingrown hairs.
How do skin tightening and photo-facials work?
Mari: A photo-facial is targeting age spots. Not everybody has sun damage, though, and it has other benefits.
If you have acne the heat of the laser will help kill the bacteria. It can help control acne and heal it. It also can make your pores look smaller, tighter and cleaner. It can help a rosacea client because it softens the redness and evens the skin tone out. I have rosacea; you would never know unless I told you. It gives the skin a nice glow and clarity. It helps prevent the dull, gray look that skin gets as you age. It has other benefits than combating age spots, but that is your primary focus.
Skin tightening stimulates the fibroblasts, which adds collagen back into the skin. You can do it around the eyes, around the mouth, the neck… Most people who come in for skin tightening will want to do the full face, but there are some who just want the eyes, mouth, neck, or jowls.
How is the aftercare?
Mari: With any laser treatment you’re going to be more photosensitive. You really need to wear sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re out and about. Car windows, even tinted ones, let UV rays in so you still need to wear sunscreen. For outdoor activities you really need to put your sunscreen on every two hours.
If you’re doing a treatment on your face, I recommend a wide-brimmed hat and dark sunglasses. Do the retro look; little kitten heels with your hat and big sunglasses.
Look for a physical sunblock – one with titanium dioxides or zinc oxides, which reflects the sun off of the skin. Stay hydrated and keep up with your skincare routine, because lasers can dry your skin out.
Why should someone come to Urban Retreat for these services, over anyone else?
Sarah: For the attention we give clients and the atmosphere. I’ve worked with lasers before and I’ve been a client at different places, and no one has ever given me a facial afterward or created the same atmosphere we create.
We really get to know our clients; my clients give me hugs afterward! I think what brings them back is that they feel comfortable; they don’t feel like cattle being herded through. Clients get to know us and they like being here. They know that I want them to have good results; it’s not about them opening their pocketbook. I care about their results.
Mari: I think she hit the keyword, which is that we care. That translates in a way that you can’t put into words. It’s through touch, our attitude, asking how the last visit was…
There’s a spirit of teamwork; we want clients to feel comfortable visiting either of us if the other one is not available. Both of us have been other places or mystery shopped other places. We do a facial after laser services and make sure that they walk out of here with a sunscreen on their face. We don’t want people to feel like we’re a machine; we want them to get results. We care about them as individuals.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Mari: The people. Not only my great coworkers. I also have great clients. For a lot of them the appointment has come to a place where every six weeks or every four weeks you get to visit a friend. You get to catch up on their lives for thirty minutes or an hour.
Philippe Licausi, one of our hair stylists here at Urban Retreat, was part of the René Furterer team at Fall 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. If you follow us on our Facebook page, you may have seen some behind-the-scenes photos with Philippe popping up already. We sat down with Philippe to find out more about his personal story, his favorite dish to cook and all of his favorite trends and products. We made sure to get plenty of inside information about Fall 2013 to share exclusively with you! And don’t worry, since we know fall is a long way off we made sure to ask Philippe what his favorite trend for spring is, too. Read our interview to get the scoop!
Where are you originally from?
Philippe: I’m from France. Toulouse, in the southwest, close to Bordeaux where the wine comes from. I miss the food, the chocolate. I miss my friends and my family a lot, but I don’t miss France really. I lived there all my life, so I don’t miss it so much. I like to live here. But so many people want to go to live in France.
What do you like the most about living in Houston?
Philippe: People and the weather. The people are really nice, fashionable, trendy, fun, sweet.
We hear you recently went to Fall 2013 Fashion week! Congratulations! Can you tell us more?
Philippe: We had a meeting Saturday night in New York City, I worked on Sunday and I worked on Monday, and I flew back to Houston Tuesday morning. I want to go back in September!
What designers did you work with?
Philippe: It was Catherine Malandrino and Reem Acra. With Reem Acra it was more of a Japanese inspiration. Catherine Malandrino was easy because she was speaking French! So it was easier.
What was the inspiration behind the look for Fall 2013?
Philippe: So, you will see that for Catherine Malandrino the hair was like a deep part, sleek, straight. And Reem Acra is more like a bun, wet with a lot of gel. Didier Malige was the director. He is a French hair stylist; he worked for Vogue. The inspiration for Catherine Malandrino was Normandy, the region in France.
What’s your favorite product at Urban Retreat to recommend to clients?
Philippe: René Furterer Volumea and René Furterer Fioravanti. We worked with one at Fashion week and the other is the one I loved the most; I used it before.
How will we be wearing our hair for Fall 2013?
Philippe: Straight hair. Strait, deep part down the middle and straight. To get the straight hair you need the René Futerer Volumea.
What do you think the trend is coming up in Fashion for Fall 2013?
Philippe: We were working, so we didn’t see many clothes! We didn’t have time to check them out. There was a beautiful leather coat at Catherine Malandrino. In interior design, too, there is a different kind of leather. The leather looks like alligator, you have different kinds of leather, in color too.
There was one other coat I loved; it was fur… The model looked like a Yeti and I loved it. This is the only thing I saw; after that I was focused on the hair so clothes I didn’t check at all.
Did you come home with any souvenirs from New York City?
Philippe: I shopped for chocolate at Barney’s. The box is so beautiful. It’s a French chocolate from the 18th century. It was a favorite of Marie Antoinette. So it’s chocolate with a little bit of orange blossom. This is so good! But it’s super expensive.
I went to Ladurée, as well. The line was inside and outside! The line was almost one block. So inside it was packed already and outside it was one block. It was freezing, but it was beautiful! The weather was really beautiful. The sky was blue.
What is your biggest hair inspiration?
Philippe: Oh, I love Vidal Sassoon. Vidal Sassoon first: this is the one I love.
What drew you to working as a hair stylist? What made you love the job?
Philippe: Since I was a kid. I would do my relatives hair growing up; it’s just a passion. I have two passions: cutting hair and cooking.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
Philippe: I love to cook. My favorite dish is chocolate soufflé or cheese soufflé with truffles.
What about Spring 2013? What trends do you love right now?
Philippe: Bangs. Kind of fringy, not too straight, more fringy and soft and piecey. It can be to the side or middle.
The Rodeo is happening right now. What is appropriate cowgirl hair under those hats? How can we avoid a hat-hair crisis?
Philippe: Usually it’s a big braid on the side. One braid or ponytail. A ponytail or a braid; one or two at the same time.
What is the biggest mistake you see people make with their hair?
Philippe: Not really anything; in France there are a lot of mistakes with hair because women don’t do their hair like they do here. In France you see more people with greasy hair, just terrible. But here? Not really; a bad hair day here? I don’t see so many, because everybody washes their hair every day and they blow-dry their hair. But in France it’s greasy. I don’t see anyone with bad hair here, really. In Houston, never; in New York, maybe.
What are your hobbies?
Philippe: Oh, travel. Travel, cooking and going to the gym.
Where’s your favorite place you’ve been?
Philippe: My dream vacation is Malaysia, Seychelles and St. Barts. I love Malaysia, I would love to go back to Malaysia. And Saint Barts. I love Puerto Rico. The food is very good, the people are very nice, the water is beautiful.
In Saint Barts, we stayed at Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France. In each room you see the cove. It’s beautiful.
What do you think makes the style in Houston unique?
Philippe: The people here are international people, they travel a lot to France. There is a mix; it’s a more international look than Texan. Texas is more of a “Texan” look. Houston is more international, trendier.