• Marcy Farrey

Taking the independent route to better hair

Updated: Aug 11, 2019

How my visit to the independent, vegan Eco Chic Salon in San Diego has changed my hair for the better!

Here at indieland, our aim is to visit and write about all of the wonderful businesses and creators that fall under the independent umbrella, which is why we're now adding a Beauty & Wellness section. This is yet another category in which we have the choice to go with a large chain or a local and independent business, and after my visit to Eco Chic Salon, the advantages of going local and indie when it comes to beauty and wellness are numerous, but here are three important reasons:

  1. Some of us tend to spend A LOT of time and money at the salon or spa--imagine how nice it would be to have that money go into your community! Think about how much you spend on average when you get your hair cut or colored, or when you get a manicure, pedicure, or other spa service. I know I feel a lot better knowing the money is supporting a local and ethical business (of course, this is true of the good salons, and you show always do your research to ensure a place is aligned with your values).

  2. Independent businesses can make their own (and arguably better) choices on their products and services without going through an extensive top-down approval process. This is especially the case with Eco Chic Salon, which uses only vegan and eco-friendly products, free of harsh chemicals. You've probably heard the expression "Bigger ships are harder to turn," and for a corporate chain, making the change to a more sustainable or ethical practice can be challenging. Independent salons can make their own choices about products. They can choose practices that align with their beliefs and serve a need in the community--which in this case, is a vegan hair salon. Eco Chic Salon is the first I've been to that doesn't push one particular brand or product: the founders picked an array of products they believe in and know are effective.

  3. You'll get personalized, focused 1:1 attention. Again, this may not be true of every independent salon, but it is true of the good ones. At Eco Chic, Leeanne, the co-founder and artistic director of the salon, spent 5 hours focused purely on my hair, taking it from start to finish. They don't believe in double-booking: when you go to this salon, you will get the full attention or your stylist.

The experience I got at Eco Chic was like no other I've had at a hair salon. In my last post, one of the founders of Oklahoma City's Commonplace Books, Ben Nockels, said, "Local is not always synonyms with good." He explained that it is the responsibility of the independent business to create an experience that is personal and memorable. While Commonplace Books is an independent bookstore, Eco Chic reminded me of it and my conversation with Ben. Every piece of the experience there is carefully curated to bring forth the essence and heart of the business.

Let me explain what I mean by describing my experience, start to finish:

The setting

The salon space is bright, open, and airy. There's lots of green, including a cozy green velvet couch in the waiting area and plenty of REAL, green and growing plants. There's also touches of pink and gold throughout, which make the space feel both sleek and full of life.

Prepping my hair

My appointment began with choosing an essential oil combo for my scalp massage. Leeanne then spent time talking to me about my hair and its health since my first visit to the salon in May to get my hair cut. When I showed her the photos of what I liked and wanted to do with my hair color, she asked exactly what I liked about the style in the photos. By spending this time with me, she was able to take the best next steps to achieve what I wanted with my hair, and realistically.

The process

My goal was to achieve the new "rose gold" hair trend, and to do that, I had to get a blonde highlight/balayage followed by two rounds of toner. Unlike my past experiences with highlights, in which I looked like an antenna with all the foil on my head, Leeanne used a reusable paper for my highlights (see my mid-process selfie). Another pleasant surprise during the process was the lack of an overwhelming chemical smell from the dye. It actually smelled lovely, like essential oils, which makes sense since Leeanne says the dye is made with them.

As I went through the full process, I enjoyed a sparkling watermelon drink and read from one of the books they offer (instead of the usual magazine pile). It was nice to see they had books from spiritual authors I know and have read before. I was truly relaxed with my beverage and book, and it made the salon experience feel more like a form of self-care than another item to check off my to-do list.

Bringing it all together

Before leaving the salon, Leeanne whipped up a custom conditioner for me, to extend the life of my hair, and gave me a small card she said to read later. When I looked at it later that night, it had a lovely, inspiring quote from one of Crosby's favorite authors, Paul Coelho.

And of course, to top it all off, my hair looks and feels AMAZING. When Leeanne showed me the nice photos she took (see the collage she put together with my inspiration photos at the top and my final product at the bottom), I was truly shocked that that was my hair. She nailed it! And in the days following, my hair has remained soft and my scalp clean. I had worried that moving to a new city and finding a stylist would be difficult, but I am fortunate to have landed it on the first try.

Next time

Next, I can't wait to go back and try one of their waterless crystal healing manicures that includes a guided meditation. Honestly, it's eerie how much this place aligns with everything I like! So, if you're in San Diego, I highly recommend you check it out, and if not, research some independent salons and stylists in your area that use clean products. While it might be tempting to go to a large salon, it is worth the time, effort, and cost to check out a local spot, especially a vegan salon. Your hair will feel the difference, and so will you!

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