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Ouidad Interview


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I have to admit that I was a little nervous as I dialed the number for Ouidad (pronounced Wee-dad). I have read so much about her and have tremendous admiration and respect for her work.

Not only does Ouidad know more about curly hair than just about anyone else on this planet, she sincerely cares about helping others fight the demons of corkscrew curls.

I first heard about Ouidad when I read an article in the October 94 Redbook with her recommendations on the proper way to shampoo hair. I loved her technique of working the lather down to the ends of the hair instead of bringing the hair up to the lather. I immediately adopted the technique with great results.

After discovering that great tip, I kept my eyes open for additional Ouidad words of hair wisdom. I soon discovered that she was an expert at curly hair. While that was very interesting to me, my focus has always been on dealing with my own thick wavy hair. So I filed away Ouidad’s curl expertise in the back of my brain.

Last summer a good friend from California asked me to refer her to a curly hair expert in New York City. I suggested that she visit Ouidad’s salon. Based on the report of her visit, I became an even bigger Ouidad fan. I started referring all curly-haired visitors from the Hair Boutique to Ouidad’s wonderful web site.

I shouldn’t have worried about talking to Ouidad. She was warm and friendly and ready to talk curly hair with me.

Ouidad’s Expertise With Curly Hair

No one understands the need to control their curly hair better than Ouidad, who has tangled with her own curls all of her life. A native of Lebanon, she decided to battle her own curly, frizzy hair by devoting her entire life to its study. Ouidad’s goal is "to share the knowledge of how curly- haired people can gain control of their own hair."

As a professional stylist, Ouidad has spent the last 26 years learning the best ways to cut, condition and style the most challenging hair type in the world. Her work has taken her to Sicily, London, Paris and New York, where she eventually opened the current Ouidad Salon.

Ouidad arrived in New York in the late 70s where she began working with the top fashion magazines. Her vast knowledge has given her the title of "curly-hair specialist" among the world’s leading beauty magazines. She is often consulted by Elle, Harpers Bazaar, Allure, and others.

Vogue magazine recognized Ouidad’s shop located at 846 Seventh Avenue, as one of the top salons nationwide and as "the salon" for specialty hair conditioning.

Basic Composition Of Curly Hair

Ouidad spent a few minutes explaining the basic composition of curly hair after I told her that crunchiness, dryness and frizz is what I always hear about curly hair. Ouidad told me that curly hair is "baby fine hair in the shape of a corkscrew. With curly hair, the fish scales stay up all the time."

"The cuticle of curly hair does not stay closed because of its shape. Consequently, the hair becomes dry and feather like. Curly hair is very delicate and more prone to damage from improper treatment because the molecular layer is constantly exposed."

Ouidad said "people think that curly, frizzy hair is tough, but it’s really quite fragile. Curly hair requires special products that nourish it and respond to it’s unique needs."

Ouidad Curly Hair Products

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Using herself as a test subject and drawing upon her chemistry background, Ouidad developed an entire line of protein and vitamin-based products designed to revitalize and control curly hair.

Her first product, Deep Treatment was a smashing success.

Deep Treatment is a unique combination of 21 amino acids, proteins and moisture. It works within the hair shaft and can transform even severely damaged hair into soft, shiny curls. Its protein base penetrates deep inside the hair without weighing it down.

Protein plays an important role in all of Ouidad's products to constantly renourish hair, not simply coat it for short lived benefits. Ouidad counseled that, "You have to eat to survive, and so does your hair."

Ouidad told me that many curly haired people are desperate to find a way to control and care for their curly hair. In desperation, they buy every hair product they can to try to solve their hair problems. Sadly, the majority of the products just don’t work. Ouidad said, "the bathrooms of curly haired people are the graveyards of hair care products."

Ouidad created her product line to save people the agony of using products that don’t work. To guarantee that her customers are successful with her products, Ouidad provides product use tips. Customers can access these tips directly from the Web.

Ouidad products are never tested on animals nor do they include animal ingredients. Ouidad uses only the highest quality ingredients in concentrations that are most effective. Her products have been scientifically tested and proven to work over time.

You can review all the great Ouidad products at her Internet store.

Ouidad Benefits All Hair Types

Listening to Ouidad talk about the great products she had developed for curly hair, I started to get jealous that I didn’t have curly hair myself. I was very excited to hear that her products work great for all hair types. For example, Ouidad has a large following of African American people. Her products work wonders on their hair, as well as, for people like me, with thick, wavy hair.

Waterfall Of Curls

I mentioned to Ouidad that my friend from California had commented on all the curly hair that she saw when she visited the salon last summer. Ouidad laughed and agreed "that many people with curly hair instantly feel at home in her salon because of the waterfall of curls that are always there."

I asked Ouidad to tell me a little about her clientele in New York. She told me that her salon, which she described "as a small hair boutique" (I liked that), "attracts people from all over the world."

Ouidad has a staff of 9 stylists who help her spread the message of curly hair care and control. She explained "that she has a large following of women from the Mediterranean countries." Ouidad prefers to keep her shop small to guarantee quality of service to her customers.

Silicone As A Frizzy Fix

I asked Ouidad if the common theory of applying silicone to curly hair to prevent frizz is a good idea. She said that "by using silicone on curly hair you are actually suffocating it because hair needs to breathe. When hair can’t breathe, over time, it becomes withered and brittle." As Ouidad explained, "the only real way to deal with frizzy hair is to revitalize it from the inside using Deep Treatment which will rebuild the interior of the hair."

There is no quick fix for frizz. Throughout our conversation, Ouidad stressed "the importance of rebuilding and feeding hair from the inside." It is very important "to use the Deep Treatment at least every two weeks." Deep Treatment is composed of essential amino acids and proteins. The molecules of these key ingredients are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft and rebuild hair’s weakened infrastructure.

Styling Curly Hair

When we came to this topic, I told Ouidad that many people want to know how to style their hair other than down, up in buns, or in the standard ponytail.

Ouidad told me that she likes to wear her own hair slicked back . Her Tress F/X is one of the best sculpting gels on the market for curly hair. She told me, that in fact, she was currently wearing her hair slicked back with F/X . This product also allows you to brush your hair out softly if you want.

Relaxing Curly Hair

I asked Ouidad to share her philosophy on the pros and cons of chemically relaxing curly hair. I mentioned to Ouidad that I get lots of email at the Hair Boutique from desperate people who feel the only way to deal with their curly hair is to have it relaxed or straightened.

Ouidad told me that, as a general rule, she does not recommend chemical relaxing of curly hair. It is "a chemical process which can damage fragile curly hair." However, if people are willing to "rebuild their hair first and relink the hair chain" they can eventually have their hair professionally relaxed without major damage.

She cautions that "any chemical relaxing must be done by a professional." She also points out that chemically relaxed hair will definitely "require extra special aftercare."

Ouidad uses a special trick for chemically relaxing hair. She "whips up a mixture of a milder sodium hydroxide with her Deep Treatment conditioner. " She explained to me that "the addition of the Deep Treatment brings down the pH factor and results in a healthier much softer treatment."

Coloring Curly Hair

I specifically asked Ouidad why color fades or seems to get lighter in some curly hair. She reminded me "that since the curly hair cuticle never really closes, the actual molecular layer is constantly exposed and this results in both natural and chemically induced hair color to fade."

I asked her opinion regarding coloring curly hair. I also inquired what color products she recommends. She explained that if a person is willing to first relink the base of their hair by using her Deep Treatment every two weeks, they can safely and happily color their hair. However, she warned that coloring should only be done by a professional with coloring expertise.

She told me that use of her Deep Treatment will rebuild the substance of the hair and this will allow the relinked hair to hold color longer and better.

Ouidad strongly advises against the use of permanent color treatments because of their high concentration of chemicals which can damage the hair. Instead, she recommends using only semi-permanent or vegetable colors. Semi-permanent colors will give hair a richer, more beautiful color and will not fade like permanent colors do. They are less harsh and perform better overall.

Regardless of your hair type, if you do color your hair, it will require special aftercare. Ouidad recommends applying Deep Treatment to your hair 3 days before coloring or perming. With properly conditioned hair, the resulting color tones appear more uniform from root to ends. The healthier your hair, the longer it holds the color and it is less prone to pre-mature brassiness.

Ouidad stressed the importance of developing a beauty regimen that incorporates the application of the Deep Treatment before coloring. She recommends applying Deep Treatment 3 days before your hair is colored, then again 2 weeks afterwards to seal and protect. In essence, Ouidad’s Deep Treatment acts like a filler or toner in the hair shaft.

Blow Drying

Ouidad said that she understands why people want to blow dry their hair for a change. She said that once a person has achieved a proper molecular connection they can get away with blow drying every once in awhile to achieve a straighter and more controlled look.

According to Ouidad, "in reality most people will be able to achieve the proper molecular connection of their hair 60% of the time. No one can every achieve 100%."

Cutting Curly Hair Ouidad Style

I asked Ouidad what is the best way to cut curly hair. Ouidad told me that people should never get it layered. "When it's layered," she asserts, "it sits in clumps and does not flow. The goal should be to make the hair look its best by removing bulk and width."

To give curly hair movement and shape she has developed the Ouidad "carving and slicing" technique which prevents the pyramid shape that layering creates.

With her specially designed technique, Ouidad carefully pulls out selected strands of curly hair with minimum tension and slices them out to allow the remaining curls to nestle into each other in an orderly way. She adjusts the process according to how curly the hair is that she is sculpting.

Ouidad recommends "keeping hair fairly long because the extra length and weight make the curl easier to control."

She cautions that her technique is very different from thinning techniques which involve chopping uniformly into the hair to eliminate volume. Thinning techniques on curly hair promotes even more frizz because the upper layers are removed.

Classes In Carving And Slicing

To help other stylists learn Ouidad’s world famous "carving and slicing" technique, she is now offering a series of special classes at her New York salon. Each attendee will receive personalized attention and hands on training with curly-haired models.

Click Here for more information on this exciting new class.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Ouidad cares about all the people who use her products. She maintains a customer service help desk for that very purpose. You can call the customer service help desk at 800-677-4247 on Mondays through Fridays, 9 AM to 5 PM EST.

Ouidad is also determined that none of her products wind up in anyone’s "hair product graveyard." Therefore, she guarantees you complete satisfaction when you try the regular sizes of her products. If you are unhappy with the product you can return any regular size item within 30 days and receive a refund.

What’s next for this wise and charming goddess of curl? Since Ouidad lives and sleeps for the cause of curly hair, I am sure there will be lots of great things to come from this amazing woman. Watch for Ouidad’s July interview in American Salon magazine.

- Revised Publication Date: 11/12/11

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