hair Archives – A Little Leopard
hair Archives – A Little Leopard

hair Archives – A Little Leopard

I love my hair stylist and my salon, but I sometimes daydream about cheating on them with Anh Co Tran. Just for one cut! Just to see what it’s like! The man basically invented perfectly imperfect, “I woke up like this” waves, except he calls it Lived-In Hair. And trademarked that phrase, thank you very much, because he’s just that good.

Tousled, beachy waves are everywhere, from Pinterest boards and Instagrams to bloggers like Aimee Song and celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski…who of course are some of Tran’s clients.

While he’s based out of LA (and his salon, Ramirez | Tran, is gorgeous), Tran does travel quite a bit. However, something tells me getting styled by Mr. King of Lived-In Hair is out of my price point right now, even if I don’t have to spring for the plane ticket. Luckily, thanks to reading a whole bunch of articles and watching a whole bunch of tutorials featuring Tran’s technique, I’ve gotten much better at styling my own hair. Buying myself a curling wand may have been the single best decision I made in 2015, followed closely by learning how to use it.

Tran uses a traditional curling iron, but I’m terrible at those. I’ve never quite figured them out…however, a nice thick wand (I think mine is 1.5″?) will do the trick just as well. Make sure you don’t wrap your ends around the wand, to avoid overly pageant-girl curls and get more of that casual, cool-girl bedhead look.

The awesome thing about Tran’s style? He claims it will work on every type and texture of hair. That’s also why he cuts dry, to see how hair falls naturally and make sure it looks good without his clients having to do anything…and looks great if they do put effort in. Mm, yeah, sounds ideal. Convinced and want to try it for yourself? Check out the video below; it’s my favorite Anh Co Tran tutorial for how to get messy waves. (Homegirl in the video has super thin hair…just create more sections if you have more hair!)

Plus, shop all the supplies and products you need to create this look. Yes, these are pricey, but if there’s one area you shouldn’t go cheap, it’s haircare, and most of these products come recommended straight from Tran himself!

featured images: Anh Co Tran

Welcome to “Leopard Spots,” a series where I share some of my favorite places – mostly in and around Chicago, but there’s always opportunity to feature travel-based locations, too. 

I usually like to live in a haircut for a week or so before deciding whether it’s really working and still looks good. However, after Saturday’s visit to Sparrow Hair, I am basically obsessed with the salon and its Logan Square location. Day two hair is looking pretty good, so hopefully it will pass the week test, because I’m pretty set on this being my new Chicago salon.

First of all, the vibe of the salon is this wonderful combination of chic yet laid-back. It’s in an amazing century-old building that was a barber shop at one point, among other things. There are only a few chairs, which makes sense given that four stylists work there. I saw Tracey (after reading she was a curl wizard), but if the internet reviews are to be believed, everyone is equally talented – which is to say, very. I mean, one of the co-owners does Tavi Gevinson’s hair and the entire Tweedy family’s. Yes, the Tweedys of Wilco. Things like this may or may not matter to you, but going to the same salon as a fashion wunderkind and local rockstar family is pretty cool to me.

Sparrow interior | Image

I also love that their philosophy focuses on low-maintenance cuts that still look good. I literally sat down in Tracey’s chair and said, “Well, this is my hair, and it needs help.” I knew I was in good hands when she told me that I have almost exactly the same hair as her best friend, which is the first time a stylist has ever been experienced with my thickness and texture. She also had me in and out in an hour, a first for me since I have so. much. hair. I left armed with air-drying tricks that a lazy styling-challenged person like myself can do, and if the first couple days are any indication, I think I am going to like this cut. I think I am going to like it a lot.

I asked for easy, tousled, “slightly French” – and I think it turned out pretty well.

Other perks (besides a killer Logan Sqaure location in an awesome building around the block from Lula Cafe) include a super nice receptionist, good coffee while you wait and only one stylist working on your hair. I don’t know about you, but I am generally not a fan of frou-frou places where one girl washes my hair, another conditions it, another cuts and another blow drys. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it does get to be a bit much, especially for a super-broke budget-minded girl like myself. I’d rather just deal with one stylist the whole time – that way she can really get to know my hair and what she’s dealing with.

Waiting area | image

So, overall, Sparrow Hair: 10/10, would recommend. It’s not super easy to get to from my apartment in Lincoln Park, but super worth it for the killer cuts and awesome vibe. Plus, it gives me an excuse to make a trip to one of my favorite neighborhoods.

So… I have a lot of hair. And I’m really bad at doing it. It’s always the last thing in my “getting ready” routine which means I basically throw some product in and hope for the best. I never blow dry it because a) ain’t nobody got time for that and b) it’s actually, literally exhausting because it takes so long. Also, I don’t own a blow-dryer.

Usually my sister does it (yay for being related to a licensed cosmetologist), but since she lives in the suburbs and our schedules are so different, I decided to try and find a stylist in Chicago. I found Tracey through Refinery29. More digging showed that the salon where she works, Sparrow, has basically 100% 5-star reviews on Yelp and I was sold. I booked an appointment immediately. This was back in February, and my appointment is tomorrow. I am so excited – let’s hope it lives up to my expectations!

Because you really do have to be a magician to deal with this mess… which is exactly what one reviewer called Tracey.

Yes, that is a poorly lit iPhone selfie and no, I did not take the time to photoshop out my dark circles.

I know I don’t want to go too short, because I’ve found that my hair is so thick that it just poufs up if it’s not long enough. So, I’d like to keep it past my shoulders. Now I just have to figure out what kind of layers will help me get that piecey, tousled, effortless look I’m so obsessed with – emphasis on the effortless.

I realize that most of the seemingly effortless styles you see on Pinterest, etc. actually take quite a bit of effort, but I’m hoping that I can achieve a wash-and-go style similar to one of the five below:

Anh Co Tran is the master of this look, and will actually be in Chicago later this month! Not sure if any appointments are available, but definitely check out his site for details. 

I love J.Law’s bangs here, but know from (horrible) experience that bangs simple do not work for me. See: unwillingness to blow dry, above.

If my hair were slightly less thick, I love this length – but what really draws me to this look is the piecey, unfinished vibe.

SJP is basically the queen of thick waves that look both effortless and polished. #Hairgoals

The Beauty Department has a wonderful guide to different types of layers and what to ask for to get your desired cut! Studying up before my cut…

Images via Anh Co Tran, Buzzfeed, A Piece of Toast, Allure and The Beauty Department.