Grit, Determination and Hypervigilance

December was a tough month for everyone

Thomas Fire:  281,893 acres burned in Ventura, Ojai, Carpinteria, Summerland and Santa Barbara. 1093 structures destroyed and 280 structures damaged

Thomas Fire Map

Thomas Fire Map and Evacuation Areas

Hypervigilance

I live and work on The Mesa.  You can see on the map how the fire circled around downtown and the Mesa.  The Firefighters held the line along Mission Canyon and 192 to protect as many people and properties as possible.  They held a town hall briefing at 4:00 everyday.  We watched on Facebook.  All the agencies involved were represented and answered any questions the public had.  All the agencies complimented each other on how well coordination and communications were done throughout the emergency.  It was really awesome and really terrifying.

The outside air quality was anywhere from “unhealthy” to “not recommended for sensitive groups”.  N95 masks were distributed to the public, free of charge from a group called Direct Relief.  I read they distributed somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000 masks.  We were cooped up.  I had not experienced that kind of cabin fever since the winter of 2013.  Where in Minnesota, there were 53 straight days of below zero temperatures.  But I digress, that’s what got us to Santa Barbara to begin with! Somehow during this time I caught a whopper of a cold which made is much easier to binge watch the news with minute by minute updates about the fire.  I went through two boxes of tissues, but I had my trusty dog by my side…

Then the rain came  

The Rain storm started about 3:30 am on January 9th.  I only know because for some reason Patrick got up, I opened one eye at the time and then went back to sleep.  The estimates are somewhere in the 1 inch per hour range for awhile and 1/4 of and inch per hour during the late morning.  Patrick was concerned about our new retaining wall, which fell during the winter storm last year.  Yes it held.

Then came the devastating mud slides.  I read that the burned chaparral caused a waxy residue to form on top of the charred dirt.  This did not allow the rain to be absorbed and caused the water to run down the mountains and pick up earth and boulders that eventually hit Montecito.  You might not be familiar with this little Santa Barbara enclave, but you might know some if it’s residents.  Oprah moved in a few years ago.  So did Ellen and Portia de Rossi.  Rob Lowe fed Fire Fighters in his kitchen.  But my favorite is of course The Dude, Jeff Bridges.  I do have a six degrees of separation story there, but that’s for another time.  21 people died and I think 2 are still missing.  A few of these souls were in the voluntary evacuation area.  It’s difficult to fathom the terror they must have felt.  This is actually the first time I’ve been able to watch any video of the damage,  it’s just too heartbreaking.

But I’ll always have my dog by my side

And as if this were not enough, the universe provided one last blow, my beloved rescue Berner Louie died after a very sudden and devastating illness.  The Saturday before Christmas, he started to limp and then knuckle his toes.  We brought him in to AVS to be looked at.  They took some X-rays, but the Vet felt that there was nothing really remarkable about them.  She mentioned the atrophy in his legs, but suggested rest, anti inflammatories and some pain management.  He got up under his own power and came home.  By the Wednesday after the Holiday, Louie wasn’t able to get up on his own, and was unable to use his hind legs at all.  We went back to AVS and were told that there really wasn’t any hope.  He no longer had any feeling in his back legs and was unable to go to the bathroom on his own. Louie’s paralysis would most likely be progressiv. We made the gut wrenching decision to let him go.  We try to reconcile our grief with the fact that he had an amazing five years with us and really became the dog he was always supposed to be.  I guess that was his Karma.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Louie “Booboo” Kelly

Grit and Determination

It’s difficult to see the bright side in all of this, but some good came out it all.  Santa Barbara came together with grit and determination.  Everybody pitched in in one way or another.  Mira Bella Salon and Spa decided to give a Direct Relief donation in lieu of our holiday celebrations.  Direct Relief distributed masks, first aid and vaccinations for workers in the mud slide area.  What is not widely known is that the CEO of Direct Relief is a resident of Montecito and was personally impacted by the fire and the flood.

We were joined at Mira Bella by Patricia Noel Studio.  The stylists there worked with us for 10 days while Coastal Village Road was cleaned up and until it was safe to return to their home salon.  They are amazingly busy Hairdressers and brought a buzz to our shop we haven’t seen in awhile.  It was great to welcome and support our hairdressing community and lift the spirits and business of another shop during this really difficult time.  We’ve made some great friends.

The sunshine has returned and along with it some unusually warm weather.  Santa Barbara is healing from the fire and the floods.  We hug each other a little tighter and give each other the help we need.  I think that is the lesson I’m supposed to take away from all of this.  I’m not alone and it’s okay to let others lead and be strong when I just can’t.

Stay strong 805

Natural Hair Texture: where the curls are.

It’s my personal mission to get everyone to embrace their natural hair texture.  I love to work with curly hair, but straight, wavy, or curly I want all my clients to enjoy their hair as much as I do! 

Curl Type

There are a couple of systems out there to help define what “type” of curl you have.  There is the 1, 2, 3, a, b, and c system credited to Andre Walker (Oprah’s hair guru).  Naturally Curly has some great photos of each curl type.  This is the most used method.  There is also the Mizani system which is a simple I, II, II, IV.  I tend to gravitate to just two groups, tight curls or loose curls (I will also accept wavy, but in my mind, it’s really loose curls).

Curl enhancing products

Most naturally curly hair tends to lean toward the dry side.  If you think about it, curlies have more of their hair exposed to the environment.  Straight hair has a veil of hair that protects the hair underneath, only one side of that veil is hit by the sun.  It’s important to support your curls with moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.  There are a lot of styling products out there that can protect your hair form the elements.  Most contain sunscreen these days.  Also, curly hair doesn’t reflect the light like straight hair does, so I like to finish with a shine spray so it sparkles.

moisture for curly hair

Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner

The Enemy

Heat styling is the enemy.  When I style your hair in the salon, I’ll use a diffuser attachment to my blow dryer.  I do that to expedite the drying process so you can see the finished cut or color.  However, on a daily basis I would prefer you air dry our hair.  If you use a micro fiber towel and a curl cream or styling lotion you should be able to get a great curl formation without the frizz.  I’m not against enhancing some wavier areas with a curling iron, please use a heat protectant product beforehand and absolutely do not try to curl wet hair.  Make sure it’s 100% dry before you heat style.

curly hair protections

Protection from the elements.

Coloring curly hair

Our natural hair texture tends to be more porous (like a sponge).  If you want to make your color last longer, make sure to use a color preserving shampoo and conditioner.  There are also color enhancing shampoos to reinvigorate your color between services.  That said, I’m a big fan of shampoo for your secondary issue and condition for your primary issue.  So if your color treated hair is dry, go with the color preserving shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner.

protecting products

Color Hold Shampoo and Conditioner

Perms and Relaxers

Philosophically I’m not a fan.  Remember my mission is to help everyone to embrace their natural hair texture?  I sure appreciate the struggle, I know the grass is always greener on the other side.  If you have straight hair, you long for body and curl.  If you have really curly hair, you lament the lack of control and frizz.  Perms can give anyone curl, but they can also reform curls into a tighter or looser pattern.  It can get all those curls going in the same direction or create natural variations in size and flow.  Relaxing hair is also reforming the curls into a looser to almost straight pattern.  Both of these processes use chemicals to break down the protein bonds in your hair and reformat them into either the shape of a perm rod or a flat iron.  Frankly I prefer to minimize my exposure to these chemicals and I hope you do too.

Embrace your Texture

I encourage all my clients to enjoy the hair that they have.  I’m happy to recommend products to help each and every one of you manage your curly hair and rock those coils!  Let’s discuss the struggles you’ve had with your hair and I’ll tailor a cocktail especially for your hair type and styling preferences.  Would I prefer that you use Alterna products?  Yep, but there are plenty of other options.  I can help.

Sarah Kelly

805.324.7950

Summer Hair Tips

Summer Hair Tips

Summer can be tough on our locks.  The sun, baking our heads at 100*, sand and salt and let’s not forget chlorine!  We have it all here in Santa Barbara, sea, sand, wind, humidity and desert dryness (love those sun downers).  How can we protect our hair from the harshness of summer?  What are some things you can do to keep your color fresh, even in the hot weather?  What can you do to rehabilitate dry, damaged hair?  

Hair Protection

Every story about hair starts in the shower.  What are you using as your cleanser?  What are you using as your conditioner?  I like to recommend to my clients that they shampoo for the hair you would like to have and condition for the hair you currently have. 

  • If you are struggling with dry hair and you’d like to have smooth hair, start with an anti-frizz shampoo and use a moisturizing conditioner.
  • If your challenge is breakage and would like healthy hair, shampoo with a smoothing shampoo and finish with a protein infused conditioner.
  • Your hair color is fading and you’d like to keep in vibrant longer, wear a hat!  Seriously, it’s the best way to protect your head, but if you just don’t have a hat head, I understand, start with a mild cleanser and finish with a sulfate free (possibly color enhancing) conditioner.
summer hair tip, wear a hat

Wear a hat!

If you only have one concern, color for example, double up and shampoo and condition to protect your color longer.  You get the idea.

Summer Hair Products

The products you use in the summer time should be few and light.  Choose products that will achieve the style you want.  Sleek, smooth, curly, wavy, you do you!  Here are a couple of ideas.

Protective Hair Styles

The way you wear you hair in the summer can affect the overall condition.  If you’re a pony tail person, a great protective style, try to place your pony in various elevations on your head.  If you always put your elastic in the same spot you’ll eventually get breakage in that area.  You can also switch it up by opting for a braid without the elastic on top. 

  • Try tucking your hair through the hole in the back of a baseball cap rather than tying it up. 
  • There are so many decorative combs and headbands available now, just remember to stick them in different spots to avoid breakage. 
  • Scarves and head wraps can evoke an island vibe.
  • Classic big straw hat.
Repair your hair

Sometimes you can do everything right and still you have damaged your hair.  The best thing to do first is not panic.  i have deep conditioning treatments that can help restore resilience to your locks.  I also have products available for you to take home to manage your summer hair.

Thanks for reading.

Sarah Kelly

805.324.7950