I recently caught up with famed colorist, Henry Amador, for a long and enjoyable chat about what he’s been up to since our very first interview that took place two years ago in 1999. As always, Henry was wonderfully charming, insightful and fascinating as he shared his latest journeys into the world of hair artistry.
Note: All photos included in this article are copyright of Henry Amador.
I was fortunate to catch Henry after he just returned from jetting off to do a bride’s hair for her out-of-town wedding. The details of his trip were fascinating and I quizzed him for juicy details. His trip involved a very special bride. Henry has been doing this young woman’s hair for years as she grew from a teen at her Prom, into a recent blushing bride. As you can imagine, he felt honored to be a major part of making her look beautiful and feel special on her wedding day.
Creativity & Soul
Since our last chat Henry has moved from his own salon haunts to a kinder, gentler setting, with a trendy new concept. His focus has shifted from the noisy hustle and bustle of a busy, impersonal salon to a mellow and relaxed small studio environment (The Henry Amador Salon - 954-396-4247 or 954-396-HAIR) that nurtures his artistic soul along with those of his beloved clients.
Not only was he craving closeness to the beach, Henry was charmed by the studio’s location set in the romantic old historic area of trendy Fort Lauderdale. Even better, the studio just happened to be a mere two blocks from Henry’s residence. This close proximity gave him the freedom to wander back and forth between his two loves, his studio and his home. The short distance from his home to his studio allows Henry to maintain a flexible schedule for his clients that might need an appointment at an unusual hour.
Will you find Henry doing hair at 5:00 in the morning? Anything is possible if Henry is willing and a client is in need of his hair assistance. The beauty of the Henry Amador studio is that it feels like you are visiting your stylist at home.
Why a new smaller, intimate studio? Henry explained that he craved the excitement of working with a group of like-minded hair and beauty creative muses who shared his quest for creating "an eclectic type of salon". And share they do. Henry described how they all “learn from each other as they experiment and play with their different hair design techniques”. This environment of inventive hair creativity adds a special air of excitement that is felt by clients and stylists alike.
As Henry pointed out “the key to success is to submerse and surround yourself with others who are like you”. Although it seemed like a simple concept, it was exactly where he felt he needed to be with his career. Henry loves the freedom to try new things, watch others as they evolve on their own paths and share in the artistic hair endeavors.
Henry really wanted to be part of a studio setting that felt more like he was welcoming a client into the comfy aromatherapy-filled warmth of his own home rather than the cold, stress filled and sterile setting of so many of the larger salons. Clients visiting The Elite Group are encouraged to chill out, close their eyes and completely relax as they are made to feel special. Life is stressful enough and Henry wants them to check their angst at the door of the studio.
Most clients can totally melt into the studio’s free flowing, yet edgy spaces, decorated with deep gold tones, teak woods, beautiful mirrors and candles.
Henry was bursting with excitement as he shared his experiences with the Elite Group. Although he is always open to taking new clients, the key is timing and fitting folks into his generally packed schedule.
Henry has a very long term and loyal base of clients. Not only has he worked with many of his clients for years, he also works on their kids, spouses and other family members. Although Henry relates well to teens and younger people, he is also the darling of the older set. In essence, he has the unique ability to be multi-generational in his hair designs.
When he’s not traveling, which he does frequently, Henry can be found hanging out in the studio where the warm and intimate setting is enhanced with the sounds of jazz.
Word of mouth buzz about The Henry Amador Salon has kept the current salon team happily engaged. Everyone collaborates as a partner in the studio and teamwork is the modus operendi.
OK, so other than making the client feel relaxed, listened to, and pampered, what attracts the constant stream of people to the studio? Could there even be anything else? As Henry pointed out, make a person feel special and beautiful and you have accomplished something that all clients really want.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that everyone at the studio is on a first name basis.
Although there are plans to expand the studio and offer some spa services, the goal is to remain small and intimate enough to always offer the clients a totally unique personal experience. Plans are also underway to do photo shoots at the salon along with music videos that will be recorded in the studios off hours.
When I quizzed Henry about what type of hair he prefers to work with, he laughed and told me “he loves to do everything that allows him to be creating behind the chair”. That means in “Henryspeak” that he enjoys doing the entire process. This means everything from the cut to the color and the final styling.
Henry is constantly motivated to craft fabulous hair designs ranging from simple sleek styles to wild twists and bold new styles. He creates for male and female clients that range in age from the young to old.
Bottom, line, Henry’s life is dedicated to his intense love for working with hair. Yes, it is definitely his passion.
Although Henry is willing to share just about anything regarding his 20 years in the hair business, his 38 years on this planet, his astrological sign (Scorpio) or his philosophies about life (Buddhism), he is unwilling to name names or provide details about the many celebrities he has worked with throughout the years.
When I pressed him for details, Henry reminded me that “all of his clients are celebrities”. While that is certainly the politically correct answer, it didn’t really get me the skinny on the stellar folks that regularly sit in his chair.
Henry politely, yet vaguely, reported that he often jets “to other destinations to do hair for his celebrity clients”. He often pops in for special events in their lives.
Some of Henry’s clients have him booked way in advance to guarantee he will be available to do their hair. One long time client has Henry written into her will to do her hair for her funeral because “she wants to know that her hair will look gorgeous into eternity”.
There are several reasons why Henry remains mum about who and how when it comes to his celebrities. Besides wanting absolute privacy, his celebrity clients often “owe their heads” to big name stylists in New York or California. Because they may not want to be viewed as disloyal to their main stylists back home, the starts want to keep their Florida trips to Henry under wraps.
Yes, it really is true, celebrities can be blacklisted from some of the big name salons and stylists if they are viewed as “turncoats”. Always, putting the needs of his clients first, Henry is religious about guarding the privacy of his stars. He believes that celebrities want to feel relaxed and pampered just like all of us regular mortals.
Henry will go out of his way to work a celebrity or star into his schedule at a time when they might have the studio to themselves for absolute privacy. As he explained, he tries to be flexible for his loyal customers.
Weaving Color Webs
The color technique that Henry is most famous for is his masterful one-of-a-kind color quilting technique, which we discussed in his first interview two years ago. Henry's color quilting technique was featured in Modern Salon, and American Salon, to name just a few of the magazines that covered Henry's incredible technique.
Yes, Henry is still designing interlocking squares of colors that are applied to a client’s hair to give hair incredible depth, richness and gorgeous hues. However, he has evolved past his quilting technique of two years ago into new dimensions.
Since his first brilliant work with color quilting Henry has soared to new artistic heights. Although he explained that the color quilting was fun and exciting, he has moved into new horizons with his color creations. He is trying many different things that open his mind to new looks.
Henry sees something different for every client. He constantly pushes himself to leapfrog over any personal fear and pushes his artistic side to paint a wonderful new design using hair color for his clients. He comes from a place of love and passion for creating the best color and looks he can for his clients.
Recently Henry has been creating fabulous headbands made out of carefully placed color. When I asked for an example of what he might design, Henry explained that he might take someone with long blonde hair and create a “color headband” by sectioning one-inch partings across the top of the hair in a simple line with darker or lighter colors to give the hair gorgeous depth and movement.
Another option is to do a black on blonde or blonde or blonde series of tiny panels to form a “band of color” that forms around the head. How the color band is created would depend on a number of factors.
The headbands are created with highlights and foils. Every band is very individual and can be enhanced with different cuts and hair lengths. Henry’s natural inspiration partially comes from the excitement, brilliance and magnificence from the art world.
Paint Is Not The Most Important Thing
Henry is a free agent when it comes to creating with his colors. Just like a true artist who mixes and blends, Henry explained that he constantly pushes himself to move beyond the bonds of being tied to just one brand of color or one color technique. As he pointed out “when the paint becomes more important than the Picasso behind it” you lose the brilliance and creativity of the individual colorist. Henry firmly believes that “color is not the answer and loses importance in the grand scheme of developing new color methods”.
Sadly, as he explained, many of the color companies today limit colorists and prevent them from soaring unfettered into a cloud of their own fantasy hues. Henry has traveled the world performing on stage, teaching and working with many colorists who are slaves to a specific color brand that blocks their ability to be the best that they can be for themselves and their clients.
In all fairness, he pointed out that clients can handcuff colorists with their demands that certain colors or brands are used. Colorists should, in Henry’s opinion, focus first on making their clients happy and beautiful rather than using a brand or hue that the client insists is the color they want on their heads.
His sincere hope is that all colorists learn that the brand of color they use doesn’t matter as much as their ability to create the colors that are a true expression of their creativity. He also hopes that “colorists learn to escape from the fear” of not using the right brand, of upsetting the clients who demand a certain color and from their own abilities to excel with new products. Fear blocks people from soaring to new heights of achievement and creativity.
After Henry explained that the “power to create color is not in your bowl but in your technique”. He works hard to avoid “getting stuck in a box” when it comes to his color creations. “Trusting your own eye and having fun with color” can result in incredible new designs and creations.
Henry is also never a slave to his timer. He never ever sets his timer and walks away from a color that is processing. He stays and constantly watches it to see what is happening.
I asked him what color brands he enjoyed playing with. After 20 years of working with color in all forms Henry reported that he “uses everything”. He loves to interchange color from different product lines.
Henry’s loyalties are to the business of creating beautiful hair and not to any specific hair care line whether it be color or for products. He did admit that being in a small studio has some major advantages when it comes to selecting colors and products.
So what products has Henry played with? He has used ARTec, Goldwell, Clairol’s professional line, Wella and Regal from Italy, to name just a few of the many brands.
As far as hair care products go, Henry really likes ARTec’s Pure Hair line and has used many different brands over the years.
Giants Of The Hair Industry
Henry is a master stylist and colorist who has paid his dues in the hair care industry over the past several years. In previous times Henry has been a very popular platform hair artist who would perform at many of the big hair industry shows like IBS. He also served as a creative director and worked with some of the hair idols of the industry.
Although Henry believes in total independence in his creative work with hair, he did tell me that he has tremendous respect for some of the giants of the hair industry like Leland Hirsh (one of my own personal hair idols) who single-handedly created ARTec.
Henry explained that he assisted Hirsh in the past. He worked with Hirsh during the Haircolor USA days.
Henry relayed that he was visiting with Leland during the time that Hirsh was writing the actual descriptions for the ARTec textureline products. Yes, Leland personally wrote every single word for every bottle that is sold today by ARTec.
Henry admires “Leland and ARTec because it is company created by hairdressers for hairdressers”. Not only did Leland sit on his bed painstakingly writing text for empty bottles, he was determined to create products for stylists. Henry pointed out that the ARTec color line follows the same tradition and that “ARTec creates colors by colorists for other colorists”. Henry deemed Hirsh “a true genius who is amazingly on target with his eye for color and his editorial work”.
Transformations Through Paint
“Using color to bring joy and happiness to people is such an amazing and powerful gift”. As Henry explained, “color can and does make such a fabulous difference for so many people”.
He relayed the romantic story of the daughter of a loyal client who came to see him to escape from her longtime look of plain straight hair. Henry decided to play with color to bestow a bright new dazzle to this attractive, yet shy, young woman’s hair. He masterfully transformed her look by adding subtle, yet sensual warm red tones. He also slightly reshaped her hair so the beautiful new tones shimmered as she moved.
The next morning on her way to college, the co-pilot arranged for her to have a better seat, which turned out to be for his own view of her “gorgeous hair”. This quiet, shy woman blossomed overnight, capturing the heart of her very first boyfriend, in the process.
These kinds of life changing experiences mean a lot to Henry because they are so fulfilling for the work that he does with color. A master colorist can help a person feel good about who they are and that makes Henry feel good about his work in this challenging field.
Pulse On The Hair Industry
As always, Henry has his pulse on the hair industry. He gave me some incredible insights into what to expect as we move towards the future and beyond.
He did remind me that it could take as long as two years for hair trends to change from the time they first appear on the runways or on celebrities. Fashion trends and fabric textures have an overall impact on color and hair changes that evolve over time.
Right now the client wants to look “done”. They want to look like they just stepped right out of the salon. The same is true with hair color. Clients want an obvious finished look. Hair color is more geometric and works as part of the overall piece. Different shapes and sizes created with color are still very exciting looks.
Christina Applegate’s look where contrasting colors of hair are interwoven is hot. Black and white together like cookies and cream is popular as is color applied to specific individual sections of the hair.
In the North part of the United States the trends for color seem to go with the seasons. For Fall and Winter the colors tend to be darker tones like reds and deeper burgundy.
In the Southern part of the United States blondes continue to be big. Blonde on blonde, icy blonde and sunny blonde are very popular. In general, there is a tremendous range of blonde that is hot and women choose the color that enhances their individuality. Southern women and California women want a blonde, tan, healthy look that is year round.
Uniqueness Is Very Hot
Henry reported that individuality continues to be a big consumer hair trend. The number one thing that is happening in the hair industry today (and will continue to happen) is a great push for complete originality.
Clients are not necessarily following a specific trend in the color or cut that they choose. Many are still focused on achieving and maintaining their own individual look that plays up their special beauty or best features.
Hair consumers are no longer willing to wear their hair a certain way because the hair industry tells them that they should. As Henry pointed out, consumers want to follow the innovators and not the copycats.
Special Consumer Hair Color Wisdom?
Two years ago when I first interviewed Henry he provided a wonderful tip on softening stubborn gray hair. I reminded Henry about his fabulous advice. I reported that I received many emails from HairBoutique.com visitors that had appreciated Henry’s great advice.
I asked Henry to share a new color related consumer hair tip for this latest interview. I specifically asked him if he could advise consumers about the proper use of the many different "color shampoos" currently available on the market.
Henry told me that believes that L'Oreal's ARTec is one of the better brands because it has "a very good pigment load" and allows color professionals to custom blend the colors for a unique look.
Henry cautioned that many consumers might have a hard time using the color shampoo at home without the advice of a professional. He also pointed out that the mistake many consumers make is not alternating the use of the ARTec color shampoos with the ARTec Kiwi shampoo.
As a rule color shampoos should never be used in moderation (no more than one or two times a week) to avoid drying out the hair. Consumers get into trouble with color shampoos when they try to use them every day. This is a big no-no and will definitely dry out the hair.
Although he likes the ARTec brand (now marketed by L'Oreal), Henry said there are actually lots of great color shampoos on the market that will put some pigment into the hair. Henry said the key to success with color shampoos (like ARTec, Aveda, Redken, etc.,) is to avoid overdoing the use of the product.
Henry Amador is an amazing inspiration. It was a great honor to be able to catch up with him after a two-year absence and discover that he continues to make all of his life’s dreams come true.
When Henry and I finished chatting I discovered a mound of 25 pages of my handwritten notes strewn everywhere on the floor.
After our long chat I immediately scurried off to try and capture the true essence of Henry, the brilliant colorist, stylist, artist, philosopher, humanitarian and muse. This proved to be a torturous task as many drafts, revisions and rewrites poured out of my head into my PC for weeks on end.
To make an appointment with this amazing hair professional call Henry The Henry Amador Salon at 954-396-4247 or (954-396-HAIR)