Capella Salon, Studio City, CA
We've known about the curly guru Shai Amiel, owner of Capella Salon in Studio City, California for quite a while. In fact, Capella Salon was one of the first salons to ever promote themselves as a curl-friendly salon in Southern California. Over the past years, Shai has been busy; most recently he started raising money for clean water and hosted the always-fabulous Lorraine Massey for a Curls Night Out event. And he continues to build his business one curly head at a time. We had a few minutes to chat with Shai and get his perspective on things.
NaturallyCurly: You have a huge curly following, and many stylists don't work with curly or textured hair. How did you decide to become an expert with curly hair?
Shai Amiel: Curly hair to me is just like life. It's always changing and you never stop learning. This curly thing just happened over the years. I never planned to have this focus on textured hair, but I believe that my dedication to the curls paid off in the long run.
NC: Yours was one of the first curly salons in Southern California; how have you seen hair change in your region? Are people moving away from the straight and narrow to embrace their curls?
SA: Many of my clients who were die-hard blowfryers are now committed to their curly hair. It is a hard sell to convince these girls that a little frizz is ok and your natural texture will always look better than that forced straight hair. Women have been told that straight hair is prettier. It has taken me many years showing some of my curly girls the benefits of the natural texture. Luckily, Los Angeles has great climate for natural curls. It's much easier to let your natural curls air dry than sitting there with a hot blow dryer and frying your hair straight.
NC: What are the biggest mistakes you see with women (or men) and their curly hair?
SA: Curlies don't trust their instincts. They tend to believe a story someone has sold to them that they must contain and tame their curly locks. They underestimate the value of the conditioner. Hydrating the curls is the key to healthy hair. People still think that they need volume so they use mousse, which is horrible for curls. It expands as it dries and it creates frizz. Curls need moisture and a holding product like a gel that seals the shine in the hair. We want to capture the look of the curls when they are wet and let them dry that way. After the curls are set and dried, we can fluff them and shake out any stiffness created by a holding gel.
NC: What are your go-to methods for treating damaged curly hair?
"Curly hair is so unique. Everyone has different texture..." - Shai Amiel
SA: Hydration is the key to hair rehab in most cases. I've tried many different products, but I found that the Deva products are the easiest and most effective in helping hair regain it's shine. The DevaCare No Poo has lower pH than most conditioners. Low pH will seal the cuticle layer, eliminating frizz. We want shine from our hair, but not from applying a greasy oil substance. We need to seal the cuticle layer with low pH and extreme moisturizing conditioners. The best and easiest repair is a No Poo cleanse of the scalp and hair. That is the beginning stage of lowering the pH level and reducing freeze. I mix for my clients DevaCare One Condition with DevaCurl Heaven In Hair and let them sit under a heated dryer for a few minutes. It is so simple and so effective.
If they are dealing with extreme breakage from overusing chemicals and heating tools, I recommend they don't dry their hair, instead letting their curls dry naturally. Direct heat is horrible to the hair.
I also recommend leaving One Conditioner in the hair as a styling aid. Mix it with a little holding gel like the DevaCurl AnGEL.
NC: What is some advice you would give someone who is contemplating going natural?
SA: Our nation is so focused on healthy diet, exercise and a clean environment. We try so hard to look healthy and natural, yet it is accepted to fry our hair with chemicals and heating styling tools. Natural hair left alone will look so much better than if it is forced into a state it doesn't want to be in. Blow-dried hair is very sensitive; it doesn't like any moisture in the air. If you want to work out or go out in humid weather, you are very limited. It's not a good recipe for a carefree lifestyle.
Curly hair is so unique. Everyone has different texture, curl pattern, color and styles making them very unique. Anybody can fry their hair and make it straight, but the straight-haired person will never be able to duplicate that naturally curly look. It's free, healthy, lasts longer and is much easier to maintain—making every curly head a different look.
"Water is the essence of life." - Shai Amiel
NC: You have just recently started raising money for clean water; can you tell us more about this and why you think it's important?
SA: Water is the essence of life. We can go without food for a lot longer than we can without water. Water is the key to life. Everything that is made needs water in the process. All hair products have a water base.
There are so many people in the world who don't have access to clean water. They are helpless and don't have any means of creating clean water supply. Charity Water will go to third-world countries and bring either a faucet to the middle of the village or open up a well for the people to get clean water. It's just amazing to see the reaction of the people when they finally have access to clean water.
Hairdressers are in contact with people on a daily basis. Our clients look up to us and listen to what we have to say. It is so easy for us as a community to get together for this cause. We can impact so many people that would just love to get involved. It only takes $20 to supply clean water for one person or $5000 to create a well for a village. It just feels really good to help those who can't help themselves.
I bought the domain for HairArtistsForWater.org; right now it is redirected to the Facebook page we created, but soon we'll have a site there. Our Twitter account is up and running and we're gaining followers quickly. Follow us at www.Twitter.com/HairForWater.
I also love this charity water because I don't have to handle the money. All donations go straight to the organization. I love how simple their campaign is and that 100% of all contributions will go straight to the people. They don't have lavish offices or expensive operations. We have a donation link on our site for anybody who wants to donate to our campaign. It is a tax-deductible donation as well.
Our Curls Night Out event raised $150 so I matched it and sent $300 to charity water. That inspired me to go for a larger-scale campaign.
Capella Salon was featured as NaturallyCurly's Salon of the Month in November 2007