Kevin.Murphy: Skincare For Your Hair… And Skin?

12042037_10156077434415576_1232547074_nIt’s no secret that I love my Kevin.Murphy products. I don’t know what I would do without these little miracle products in my shower at home or in my station at work. What really set the brand apart when I started playing with it a few years ago was how well everything worked AND how healthy it still left the hair.

I’ve since learned that a key reason why that’s the case is because Kevin has worked really hard to make it so. As a session stylist, his products were really born out of a need to create the best that would perform in a high fashion environment, but still leave the hair looking and feeling healthy at the same time. What was on the market just wasn’t cutting it. So he went to the lab.. :) In his products, he put essential oils because they smell delicious and natural, but also because they act as bio-catalysts for the other ingredients and penetrate the hair on a cellular level. He also infused his products with vitamins and minerals so that each product is delivering beneficial nutrients to each strand. And of course, the line is very rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants work hard to minimize damage that we see from the sun, environment, color services and really anything that would cause the “decaying” of hair. Ingredients like kakadu plum and immortelle oil are used in several products to do just that. And because each ingredient is sustainably harvested and/or micro-cultivated, the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential oils are more pure and safer for the climate and client.

So as a Kevin.Murphy educator, I’ve had this question a lot: “Since the ingredients are safe and because Kevin.Murphy is skincare for your hair, can I use these products on my body and face?” And because I experiment everything, I tested out that theory. Sure enough, I fell in love with a few products that are now my go to’s for hair and skin. As I discovered what products I began to love using as a body wash or a shave oil, I began to hear feedback in classes from other hairdressers who already had faves. So I tried those, too.

Here are the top 5 that I now use on the regular for both skin and hair:

1. Super.Goo: 12080724_10156077434420576_1560542199_nI love this product on my hair for the perfect wet look or a quick vintage fingerwave set. But when I’m out of my favorite brow gel and in a bind? I love Super.Goo mixed with just a tad bit of dark shadow to match my brows to substitute for a traditional brow gel. The shadow gives it a more matte look and because it’s super strong and dries very quickly, it makes for the best gel to perfect and sculpt your brows. I learned this trick on accident when I ran out of my regular brow gel, but I think this new routine is my new go to!


12067951_10156077434405576_9219058_n2. Maxi.Wash: This detox shampoo is so amazing as a pre-wash. It’s exfoliating and full of AHA’s to slough off anything that’s lifting off the cuticle layer of your hair. I use it from scalp down to my ends before shampooing to give my hair and scalp a clean slate. And because it’s so exfoliating and the tea tree scent is so refreshing, I’ve started using Maxi.Wash as a body wash as well. It’s almost part scrub, part body wash because of it’s strength in removing dead skin. And because it’s already in my shower in the morning… it’s perfectly convenient!



3. Young.Again Oil: And speaking of shower maintenance, Young.Again oil is the most perfect after shave oil. Because it’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it really helps to maintain a moisture balance and replenish skin that has been exfoliated. It works on the cellular level, so I always layer on a good amount and give it about three minutes to soak in. I even use it on my hands and face often because it really works to give you a “second skin” and fill in the holes left from environmental and chemical damage and just natural wear and tear from aging.


12084141_10156077434430576_793579424_n4. Damage.Manager: This awesome product has a complex blend of essential oils and plant extracts that help to not only prevent future heat damage, but to also help repair cells that have already been damaged. The allantion in the product causes new cells to grow and arnica root prevents inflammation, making Damage.Manager the perfect spray to fix any skin burn. I spray this product on my hair as a heat protectant, but I also spray it on my hands and arms when I get any kind of burn from using my curling iron or cooking. It helps my burns heal quicker and with less sting.


12092567_10156077434425576_784041439_n5. Shimmer.Shine: Ever since it launched in 2013, this product has been my go to as a body spray. I love the smell and the little gold flakes from the tiny mica give off a touch of shine. And because the spray is oil based, it’s also moisturizing. I absolutely love it blowdried into my hair and as an after styling spray. But honestly, no matter how I’ve styled my hair, I usually spritz myself down before leaving my house just to give myself a little extra sparkle. I always get compliments on the scent and especially after a long flight, Shimmer.Shine feels like such a refresh!

If you live in Denver and want to try out any of my fave products, you can visit me at The Oxford Hotel Salon & Spa and book a complimentary consultation! And if you aren’t in Denver, you can head to the Kevin.Murphy website and find a salon near you!

On Humility Behind The Chair

Behind The ChairI wanted to tell you guys an interesting story about a recent situation I had with a client. I’ve changed the name of said client, but all of the details and especially what I learned through the interactions we had are very much real.

We’ll call her Rachel because why not? :)

So Rachel came to see me several months ago for the first time. She’d had a bad experience at the first salon she went to after moving to Denver and had seen my website, so she thought she’d see if I could fix it. Unfortunately, the previous hairdresser had really cut into the face framing in the front and left quite a hole where there should have been a soft, easy frame. The layers were uneven and Rachel was so upset that her gorgeous, long dark hair wasn’t styling how it should.

After a lot of time together discussing our options and where Rachel had originally wanted to go with her hair before the mess up, we decided the best thing would be to take off about 5 inches or so and allow the framing in the front to grow out. It was a huge bummer and neither of us were excited to go back to what felt like starting from scratch, but I knew that until that framing grew out, it would always be really difficult to style and it would take twice as long to blend out if we didn’t take the length now.

So we snipped.

And on that day when Rachel left, it was a weird feeling as a hairdresser. I felt somehow saddened that I couldn’t give her what she wanted. I pride myself on being able to consult well and deliver while exceeding expectations. However, I also understand that I wasn’t the hairdresser that got us here.

Still, it wasn’t a fun feeling to have her leave and know she wasn’t happy.

Every haircut has kind of been that way since I saw her at that first appointment. We’ve been growing out her layers and each time, we’ve had a little excitement to see the growth. But there was still a focus on how much further we had to go in order for her to get back to the hair she loved.

And then, I saw her again recently. I was really happy to see her because as soon as I saw her in the lobby waiting, I knew this would be our haircut. Her layers looked long enough that we could finally take off our standard ½ inch or so on the length and finally have the layers grown out enough that we could shape her entire haircut the way she’d always wanted it and let it grow out from here. I was ecstatic.

So I go through the haircut completely glowing, knowing that we are finally moving past this phase in her hair-story. YES!

But then I get to the end of the haircut and show Rachel all of the angles of her new look in the mirror and she’s sitting there, weighed down with obvious frustration, seemingly unsure what to say. Clearly, she’s not as happy as me.

So we had a conversation. And it was really difficult for me as a woman and as a hairdresser.

It turns out Rachel was still not in love with her haircut. She wanted more layers and felt like her hair was now way too flat and lacking movement. And I was frustrated because I felt like we’d just spent months growing out her layers and getting to this shape. We went back and forth with me shooting out ideas and her and I discussing the impacts of trying them. It kind of felt like we were on a verbal merry-go-round and by the end, I felt really uncomfortable moving forward in any way. I felt like I needed to do some more finishing, but I really didn’t want to make the wrong call given that it’s taken us so long to get to where we were.

The younger hairdresser that I’ve been in the past would have had a harder time letting go of the frustration and grabbing on to the humility that was called for.

But that would have been the younger me.

Instead, I asked Rachel if she would be willing to come back in on another day when I could ask for the assistance of our most senior hairdresser to consult with her and give us a fresh perspective. I told her I valued her as a client and in that, I would put aside any pride I felt at not being able to give her what she wanted and do what I felt was necessary to reach our ultimate goal: her happiness and love for her hair.

She said she’d be willing to do that.

Two days later, I sat down with Malissa, the senior hairdresser I wanted to consult with Rachel. I told her the backstory of what we’d been through and she was gracious enough to agree to spend half an hour with us giving us a new perspective.

Rachel arrived and sat down. After just a few minutes of talking, it was clear that all we needed to do was a bit more texturizing and finishing with the layers to round them out more and take out the weight. Malissa was able to see that immediately, talk Rachel through it as she got started and show me a few new texturizing and finishing tricks as she went.

And we laughed a lot, too. At the situation, at my total fear of doing anything to her hair, at our journey thus far. Just at life and how weird it can be sometimes. As I stood there reflecting on the story I’ve had with Rachel since we met, I was so grateful to feel like we’d gotten through such an often weird and difficult client/hairdresser situation. One that could have easily ended in hurt feelings, another bad haircut, lack of communication and understanding or just simply another negative experience in a salon for her.

At the end, Rachel was in love with her hair. I hadn’t seen her so relieved since I met her.

Malissa was more than happy to invest in me and help me grow.

And I had learned a hell of a lot. About how to texturize in new ways, how to speak to my clients more clearly and effectively. And most importantly, how to set my pride aside and learn to ask for help when it’s needed.


Springtime Musts For All Hair Types

MACAROONSSpring is one of my favorite times of year. I love how excited everyone is to be out of winter’s cold grasp, wearing short dresses and strappy heels. And the new leaves on trees and birds chirping each morning are a reminder of the world waking up to new possibilities. I’m always really inspired this time of year!

However, with the transition in weather comes another important transition to consider: how you treat your hair. Where dry winter air can cause static and breakage, wet spring air can give way to frizz and increased oiliness. They say that April showers bring May flowers, but they don’t warn us that our hair is just as prone to dramatic changes. Let’s go through some of the ways that each hair type can prep for the new season!

Fine Hair is more prone to being weighed down by heavy moisture this time of year. It’s a hard shift from static to a greasy scalp and without the proper balance, you’ll be fighting oil and limpness all season long. I recommend using a balancing shampoo to regulate sebum production or a fine hair specific shampoo like Kevin.Murphy’s Angel.Wash to maintain moisture and volume. You’ll also want to use a dry shampoo to soak up oil in between washing and to maintain volume.

Medium and Coarse Hair is prone to frizz from the new moisture in the air. In humidity, there is more hydrogen in the air, which hair is incredibly sensitive to. In fact, hydrogen bonds are what give hair its temporary shape. When we have a blowout done, for example, we are temporarily restructuring the hydrogen bonds. Humidity allows for those extra hydrogen bonds in the air to attach themselves between the regular protein and water molecules within your hair, causing major volume and and frizz. And since hair is so porous and especially if it’s been on the dryer side through the winter, it will be quick to pull in this extra moisture.

The best way to avoid frizz then, would be to maintain an appropriate balance of moisture in your hair. I recommend Smooth.Again by Kevin.Murphy for women with hair on the medium to coarser side. It’s an anti-frizz treatment that smooths down the hair strand while delivering serious moisture at the same time. It leaves your hair feeling soft, touchable and totally smooth.

And for my spring breakers heading to saltwater and sunshine, I would recommend using something like Motion.Lotion from Kevin.Murphy. It’s a curl cream with UV protection. I don’t even have curl and I even use it as a lotion in my straight hair to maintain a really soft texture while protecting my hair poolside. If you do have curl, however, this product will easily be your go to on spring break because it eliminates frizz, hydrates the hair, adds shine and leaves your curls soft and shiny unlike the crunchy gels that can be too much to deal with.

Another fun idea for springtime is using the Color.Bug. With colors like purple, peach, gold shimmer, green, white and pink, there is something for every personality. Fake temporary highlights with the gold shimmer or rock a pastel purple from your roots to ends. Made with mineral eye shadow, this product is easy to apply, won’t dry out your hair like a chalk will and is totally water soluble.

To check out any of these products, head to the Kevin.Murphy website. And if you are in Denver and want to get your hands on any of these, come visit me at The Oxford Hotel!

PRODUCT LOVE | Smooth.Again by Kevin.Murphy


I’m going to be real honest here. When Smooth.Again launched a few months ago, I was a bit skeptical. It’s part of my nature to question everything and I think that’s a big part of what makes me really fall in love with certain things and allows my clients to trust that I’m giving them the best information out there. And also, part of what makes me think other things are just a complete gimmick. I have to know why things work, why they are beneficial, why I should spend my money on it, what is the proven science behind it… I just have to know it all.

So when Smooth.Again launched, I honestly thought to myself, “but why?” With the amazing Young.Again Oil full of antioxidants and immortelle oil and Easy.Rider with biotin and green tea extract for smoothing and strengthening, I honestly didn’t see why Smooth.Again was necessary. And knowing that Kevin.Murphy has a really strong, intentional stance to maintain a small range of products with each delivering amazing benefits and adding something to the line that isn’t currently in use, I had to figure out what this Smooth.Again was all about.

You guys, I’m not even joking… I fell in love! While I really wouldn’t ever have a need to use it in my naturally fine, stick straight, thin hair, I’ve been using it on client’s hair and the results have been phenomenal. Let’s go through some of the key benefits, ingredients and clients this would be perfect for and I’ll share with you my story of falling in love with Smooth.Again.

Reduced drying time: The first thing I noticed when I worked my round-brush through a curly client’s hair was how quick I was moving through each section. It usually takes me a good 45 minutes to take a thick, curly client to straight with my blowdryer and brush. With Smooth.Again, I was down to about 30. I know that doesn’t seem like a HUGE difference, but when you are booked back to back in the salon and you can knock 15 minutes off each haircut, that can be an extra hour or two of time freed up easily. Or if you are one of those women who styles every morning, that 15 minutes means extra sleep! :)

Super shiny, smooth and soft hair: I’ve always hated the way a flatiron look is really lifeless and stiff, but some women really love the look because it gives them the shine and smoothness they so completely want. I felt like Smooth.Again gave that same texture, but still allowed the hair to maintain movement and bounce, which is a really modern interpretation of that classic idea. The hair is touchable and soft, but not totally limp and flat. Hair today is best when it looks lived in, but intentional and I think Smooth.Again nails that texture.

Heat protection: Of course, using a lotion that has heat protection is always better than the alternative. Not only does this product leave the hair feeling soft, but it will maintain that over time because it’s meant to protect from the heat.

Botanical ingredients: Smooth.Again, just like every product in the Kevin.Murphy range, uses plant botanicals sustainably harvested to achieve such outstanding results. This product boasts cupuacu seed butter from Brazil to help heal dry hair and pull moisture in, Japanese green tea to recycle collagen and elastin, lotus flower extract to stimulate enzyme activity and melanin synthesis (helping to rebuild protein in the hair and offset greying) and baobab seed oil, full of vitamins and antioxidants to help fight aging and regenerate hair cells. With key ingredients like these, it’s easy to see why this product works so well.

No build up: I’ve often used other product lines for smoothing purposes on my curly clients and I’ve been left really disappointed by how the product just seemed to sit atop the hair strand coating it rather than really soaking in and working on a cellular level of the hair. If I’m going to use something to help smooth, I don’t want that be from heaviness or weighing the hair down and forcing it to submit. I want to see shiny, smooth hair because of deep penetrating moisture and protein that has literally smoothed the texture of the hair from the inside out. That is sustainable and I can get behind it. A heavy oil that just coats and weighs down? Not so much!

Can be used to blowdry straight or to maintain curl: I used this on a client, Valerie who has thicker, coarser and curlier hair. She wanted to start wearing her hair curly and wanted a product that would allow her curls to dry without frizz and to be smooth and soft to the touch. She also wanted to maintain some of her natural volume, but she didn’t want to feel like in humidity, it would get out of control. So we tried Smooth.Again. I combed about a nickel sized amount through her hair, twisted her hair up in ringlets, let it dry under a hood dryer and then pulled her curls apart when they were completely dry. Voila! Perfect bouncy, touchable, frizz-free curls. We both stood there speechless! I’ve never seen a product give that result in less than 30 minutes of naturally drying and honestly, I was completely hooked after this if I hadn’t been already.

So, it’s safe to say that I love this product now and I’ve barely been able to keep it on the shelf at my salon. In fact, we had to start a wait list at one point until we got some more in. I’m definitely sold and now having felt it on air-dried curls and blowdried through on thick hair, I know it’s that miracle product for clients who are in search of the perfect all in one for heat protection, frizz control, shine, movement and health.

Smooth.Again could really be used on any hair density. Meaning, anyone that struggles with frizz whether their hair is thick or thin could benefit from using it. However, I would use a pea sized amount on thin hair and up to a nickel sized amount on really thick hair. The only person I wouldn’t use this on would be someone with really fine, thin, straight hair because it’s just simply not necessary. That hair type typically doesn’t fight frizz or need extra shine. But for women who struggle with frizz, women with curl of any type or women with just really thick hair who have a hard time getting through a blowdry efficiently and with some bounce, Smooth.Again is pure perfection!

For more detailed information from the brand directly, check out the website here. If you’re in Denver, you can pick up Smooth.Again from me at The Oxford Hotel Salon downtown near Union Station. And if you are anywhere else, you can find a salon through the salon locator on the KM website. Kevin.Murphy is strictly sold in Kevin.Murphy salons and not in stores or online, so be sure to find a salon near you to pick it up!

What Kim K’s Blonde Can Teach Us About Color

Before everyone heads to the salon chair to inevitably follow along behind the queen of mixing up her hair color, I wanted to touch on the process of going from dark brown to blonde. It can be really misleading to see Kim Kardashian go from dark brown (which we know was color) to bright blonde in one simple afternoon session and incorrectly assume that we too can mix it up that easily. I’m hear to tell you what likely happened behind the scenes. Let’s break down the myths here of what is and isn’t realistic when it comes to lifting your own hair to blonde.

Do realize this often can’t happen in one afternoon. Because bleach is needed to lift the older color out of the hair and because over-processing with bleach can cause breakage and major amounts of damage, you have to take your time. You don’t want to end up with four hairs on your head because the quick and harsh lifting has caused too much damage. And you also don’t want to end up with overly porous and dry hair either. Both of which are very real possibilities when bleaching too quickly.

Do know that Kim Kardashian can always get extensions. I know this sounds really silly, but I’ve had women sit in my chair and say, “I don’t care, I just want to be platinum today!!” I explain to them the risks to the health of their hair and even that we might not be able to get to a pretty tone if we do everything in one day depending on their hair’s current condition. They don’t hear anything other than the fact that they want to be blonde like yesterday and they’ll do anything to make it happen. Okay, so if we do this and all of your hair breaks off and you are left with little to no hair, you probably can’t just go spend $1500 on extensions until the color grows out. Kim Kardashian can and probably will. I’m not saying don’t proceed if you really want to be platinum, but just be realistic about the risk and reward.

Don’t assume you can just cover with brown if you hate it. The process of going back to brown from very light blonde is almost as tedious as the opposite direction. It requires filling the hair with pigment (because remember, you’ve just removed all pigment from the hair) and lots of behind the scenes chemistry and formulating to get you back there. And oftentimes, even after that, it still takes about two to three sessions for your brunette color to not fade quickly. Just know that it’s not as simple as just covering it if you hate it, so be sure you’re committed to the process.

Do use a deep conditioner in between treatments. Because Kim K has access to all of the best treatments on the market (and the funds to get anything she wants), she can afford to do as many treatments as necessary. I mean, she has a salon room in her house, guys. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do in between color sessions. If you cannot afford to maintain the upkeep in between, you definitely shouldn’t try such a high maintenance color. For light blonde, you’ll need to deep condition, add protein and usually, add a purple pigmented shampoo to your routine as well to ensure your tone stays perfect and not brassy.

Don’t let those yellow tones show. If I had one criticism of Kim’s new color, it would be all of that exposed yellow undertone. The color really should have been lifted one more time or toned down to achieve a softer look. But again, that’s what happens when you try to go platinum in one sitting… Kim started at a level 4 or 5 and tried to lift up to a level 10 in one session. In the salon, I would usually recommend about two to three separate appointments of a few weeks in between to slowly lift and maintain health while lifting to that level of lightness. I would venture to guess they had to process Kim’s hair at least three times to get to where they did and even then, there is still so much yellow present. And that yellow is what makes her current color look less high end.

Do complement your skin tone. That yellow against Kim’s skin tone washes her out quite a bit. It might give her a severe, high fashion look and if that’s all she was going for, then that’s great! But it seems more to me that they ran out of time trying to get to the perfect level and ended up with less time to tone, leaving that yellow hue behind on accident. Especially for someone as photographed as Kim K (and photographed in all types of lighting), I would have recommended going with a more beige blonde at the level they were able to lift to so that the color was more “done looking” and complemented her skin tone better.

Don’t forget dimension. Part of what makes this new look on Kim look so severe is the fact that it’s just one harsh tone. Personally, if she was my client, I would have encouraged her to leave a subtle lowlight throughout in order to maintain depth in the color and to create a dimensional look. When the eye is only looking at a one dimensional color that has pieces of yellow, the color can fall very flat and look less flattering than it could. We all know that Kim is beautiful, but this color doesn’t accentuate that; it just points out her more severe features adding an edge to her where there should be some softness and depth.

Do rock Kim’s confidence. I truly think there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” haircut or hair color as long as the person wearing it owns it. If you love it, screw the haters. Sometimes, like in this case, you want to go for something that might not be totally flattering, but allows for you to tap into a persona. Let’s face it, Kim’s in Paris for Fashion Week and she’ll be photographed every minute of every day. She wanted a new and edgy style to go with her more edgy outfits and she wanted to turn heads. And what she got? Not the most flattering color for her, but she got a way to bring out an element of her personality for the world to see. I went platinum blonde for a few months when I was 20 and though it looked horrible, fried my hair to the point that I had to cut it shorter and certainly washed me out, I loved it. You know why? Because I finally got to try that bottle blonde color I’d always wondered what I looked like in and I got to bring out a side of my personality that was a bit sassier. It was fun! I knew it wouldn’t last forever and because of that, I enjoyed rocking it for a few months.

For more information on toning and the process of lifting color, check out my 10 Commandments of Hair Color. For platinum specific tips, head to my column on

Exciting New Changes @ Hair With Kate

Ladies, we have a good problem on our hands. I am at a point where I am receiving so many emails and messages from you all across the world seeking hair care advice, at home color tips and product recommendations. I absolutely love getting to help you embrace your hair by answering your questions and helping you find solutions. However, there are now so many women writing in that I no longer have time to respond to each email individually.

I love the high demand and the ability to help lots of readers, but I’m bummed when I can’t make the time anymore to get to everyone. So, things are changing. And it sure is exciting!! Here’s what’s new:


1. New Website: I’ve been working on the new site for over a good six months. Good things take time, that’s for sure! My amazing fiance, Ali has been working really hard to make this new site interactive, user friendly and with tons of new features. We are so close to being ready to go live and I can’t wait to have more ways to engage with you guys through comments, sharing and an email subscription with a monthly newsletter. You may have noticed my use of the new logo on social media and I think it perfectly showcases the way the Hair With Kate brand is moving forward in fun, innovative and fashionable ways!

2. Consultations Online: The next best thing compared to actually sitting in my chair for a consultation. I’ve heard your frustrations that you either don’t trust your hairdresser to give you the right information, don’t have a hairdresser to help you out or just find me to be very experienced and you’d like my opinion. As much as I wish I could teleport to you and give you my solutions in person, we aren’t there yet! :)

Every consultation begins with a questionnaire that you will fill out with your concerns, questions and anything I need to know about your history, health or other relevant information. I’ll also have you submit photos if you have any. Then, depending on what package you purchase (email or video), I will go through all of your concerns and help you solve your problem with my professional and experienced opinion and advice. Each package also allows for follow up questions and a summary of recommendations. This has proven to be really beneficial for women who would like to learn more about their hair type and how to style it, for women who’ve recently been through a salon disaster and need advice on moving forward or for women who would like to pick my brain about new trends, at home coloring or anything else they’ve been curious about. For more info, click here. 

3. Ask The Stylist: Even if you don’t need to purchase a consultation, I’d still love to have your questions! Moving forward, I will be compiling all email questions that come in into one monthly blog post for everyone to see and learn from. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer very long, detailed questions and that’s part of adding the consultations online. But if you have a shorter question that you’d love an answer to, please feel free to send it in to me with “Ask The Stylist” in the subject line. I’ll add your answer to the queue and it will be published the following month!

4. Hairstylist Matchmaking: Another issue I’ve helped readers with is finding the perfect hairdresser. It can be really difficult knowing exactly what to ask in a consultation, how to find someone who knows your hair type, or even finding someone who truly listens and understands. With this package, I consult with you about everything from your hair type to the products you love to how close you’d like to be to your new salon and an ideal personality type for your hairdresser. We’ll cover the bases for what you need and I’ll get to work finding that perfect stylist for you. I’ll tap into my huge, global network of fabulous and talented hairdressers. With me acting as your liaison and speaking to stylists in “hairdressing language” about your needs, I can break down the walls and bring transparency, accountability and understanding. And greater comfort for you.

Once I find someone you love, I can introduce you to your new stylist via social media or email and even help you set up your first appointment if you’d like. And I’ll be available for feedback and followup as well should you have additional questions and concerns. For more information, click here. 

5. Instagram Friends: I’ve been much more active on Instagram than I have been on other social media outlets. If you’d love to stay up to date on behind the scenes fun, training classes I’m taking, teasers for future blog posts and Youtube videos, feel free to add me @HairWithKate.

And here’s what’s not changing, but getting even better:

1. Youtube Content: I’ve spent the past two months compiling ideas and recording videos to be published on Youtube. Thank you to everyone who has watched a video so far. Thanks to you, one of my videos has over 2900 views! The new content will be informative, engaging and should serve as another great resource for you to learn all about hair in fun, creative ways. Some videos are on product recommendations and others are just five minute chats about hair care fundamentals. And others are #5MinutePinIts. I can’t wait to share the new videos with you!

2. My Column on I love being an HG beauty contributor and I’ll probably write for them until I’m a little old lady. I’ll be a pro at grey hair by that point… :) This year, you can expect to see more engaging content that falls more on the entertaining and informative side. I have built up a good foundation of columns on hair color fundamentals, face shape tips and shampoo advice. Now it’s time to get to the fun stuff that everyone loves. Look for the same voice and detail you’ve grown used to, but more out of the box thinking. And of course, if you have ideas, shoot me an email!

Thank you all so much for reaching out, for the love and for trusting me with your best accessory. You guys really do allow me to get up everyday and do what I love and there is no greater gift. A lot of these ideas today have grown organically just from listening to your needs and finding ways to solve them that make sense. And trust me, they are only the beginning of a series of exciting new adventures for this site. I hope these new additions help you embrace and love your hair and I’m looking forward to a great year of fulfilling that mission! 

The Only Beauty Resolutions You Need To Follow This Year

Because trends come and go, but loving yourself is always in season.

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1. Toss old lipsticks and mascaras: These can dry out over time and even become hotbeds for bacteria to form if kept for too long and shared with others. Don’t take the risk of an eye infection or cold sore and spend the time to regularly clean out old makeup every 3-6 months. Trust me, an eye infection is way more expensive than buying a new lipstick.

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2. And speaking of lipstick… Find your signature shade: When I got over my fear of lipstick, I found a gorgeous shade of orange-red that instantly brightens my whole face. It makes my skin look more bronzed, my teeth whiter and it makes me feel more sexy and sassy. I don’t wear it all the time, but I reserve it for days when I don’t have much time to do anything else or when I want to feel a bit more “done” for a meeting or event. It’s my little secret weapon for quick beauty.

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3. Say positive affirmations in the morning: You get to tell yourself who you are before you interact with anyone else in a given day. And focusing on who you want to be and envisioning yourself as that woman is the key to becoming her through small steps every day. Put up pictures, write out positive affirmations and/or repeat a mantra regularly to keep moving forward.

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4. Practice yoga and/or meditation: Less stress is a must for a calm mind that can make good decisions and a thankful soul that can gift you perspective. Stillness is truly where reflection can take place and gratitude can be cultivated, so make it a part of your routine. You’ll be more productive with your work and you’ll be able to enjoy your time away from work more as well.

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5. Get smart: Part of owning your beauty is realizing that your brain is just as important as your hair or your lashes. Those things might get you noticed, but they shouldn’t define you. Beauty is being able to speak multiple languages. Beauty is dominating your career field. Beauty is reading more than 50 Shades of Gray.

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6. Gossip less, love more: To me, beautiful isn’t gossiping and negativity because there’s nothing else to talk about. That’s a move for women who aren’t secure in their femininity. I know because I’ve been there… jealous, catty, bullying other girls. And it was all just a reflection of how I felt about myself. I was threatened by strong, smart, independent women because I wanted to be like them and wasn’t. But when I started to see all women as sisters and began loving them as such, I started truly loving myself as well for the first time. And once I got out of my own way, I made lifelong friends and I started really becoming the smart, strong, independent woman I wanted to be.

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7. Invest in a good hat: We all have lazy days when a messy bun just won’t cut it. Or travel days that start at 5 AM making it crazy to justify a blowdry for less sleep. Get a couple great hats (I wear a straw fedora in summer and a wool wide-rimmed hat in winter) that you can throw over dirty hair and still feel fabulous in.

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8. Use cruelty free products: You should never have to sacrifice a great product for animal safety. My favorite lines: Kevin.Murphy for hair, Sanitas for skin and Glo for makeup are all cruelty free and knowing that makes me feel that much better about using them.

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9. Read inspirational books: I love reading memoirs of women I love and admire because it shows me the journey they’ve been on and lets me understand the mistakes they’ve made and how they overcame them. I feel like a big part of beauty is being intentional, forgiving yourself and knowing how to get through the hard stuff with a smile on your face and these books can really keep you focused on that mission.

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10. Drink plenty of water: It’s true, ladies. Our largest and most visible organ is our skin and it very literally reflects the way we take care of ourselves on the inside. And skin that glows, is full of moisture and still has elasticity and firmness is the perfect pallet for any makeup. Plus, water keeps you hydrated and cleansed on the inside as well.

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11. Invest in detox treatments: It can be as simple as a monthly massage or a foot bath to pull toxins out, but it’s definitely clear that those who detox regularly feel better and more energized. A big part of feeling beautiful for me is feeling rested, awake and ready for my day and detoxing helps me feel that way as often as possible. 

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12. Establish healthy eating patterns: Last year, I gave up sugar for a month entirely and lost 10 pounds. I stuck with my routine only eating natural sugars for another couple months and lost another five pounds until I balanced out. I felt like my body knew where it should be and once my weight got there, I stopped losing weight. Now, I can literally feel it when I’ve had processed sugar. My throat hurts, I feel tired and my stomach doesn’t love it. I’ve even gotten sick twice this past year eating processed sugar. Our bodies aren’t meant to have as much as we do… if any. Commit this year to eat in moderation and treat yourself, but keep a healthy routine. It’s not about what the scale says, but it is about being healthy and happy. 

In all of your beauty pursuits this year, always remember that beauty begins with you. How you feel, how you speak to yourself, how you carry yourself and what’s really on the inside for you to share with the world. I love that beauty can not only help you live a better story with confidence and discernment, but it can also better the world. You can either give love and happiness to the world through your beauty or you can choose to add to the negativity and the noise. I choose love and happiness.. what about you?

Images Via, Via, Via, Via, Via, Via, Via, Via, Via, Via, Via


Transformation Tuesday: A New Bob For A New Life

I’ve always believed that a good haircut can be a symbol for starting over. And that doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. It can mean you are starting a new marriage (hello, post wedding chop!) or starting a new job. Or it can mean you are letting go of a certain image you’ve always had and starting fresh. Whatever the reason, I’ve always believed that cutting dead ends loose is a powerful force to symbolize personal growth.

I met my friend Shannon in November when I started working at The Oxford Hotel Salon. I colored her hair during my first real experience getting to chat with her and we immediately bonded. Her and I have both been through tough divorces and carried the burden of picking up the pieces of our hearts and starting over. We joked about the process of becoming a single girl after marriage and how it is to have a new roommate. I could just really connect to her story and it was refreshing. She shared some wisdom with me and I tried to pass some of what I’ve learned her way. It sounds like we both came out stronger after each of our ordeals and to both of us, the key was facing it head on, learning from it and putting all of our focus into moving forward to become better. You know that quote, “The only person I’m competing with is the person I was yesterday”? Shannon lives that everyday and to begin to hear her journey in that was so inspiring.

So when Shannon came to me a couple weeks ago and told me she wanted to cut all of her hair off, I was really excited for her. Shannon’s positive outlook on life and her desire to manifest happiness and growth are her driving forces and her optimism bleeds through each word she speaks and each hug she gives. This girl is not just a survivor, she’s a warrior. 20150111_130444

Before The Chop!

Before The Chop!

When she sat in my chair, I asked her why she wanted to cut her hair now specifically. And her answer made perfect sense. She has spent this year focusing on meditation and calmness in her life. She’s eating healthy, detoxing and focusing on just living a clean life. And in the midst of these major life changes, her hair has remained the same. Almost a symbol of the last remaining element of her old life and it was time to cut it loose. It was time to reflect on the outside the changes that have taken place in her heart, mind and soul inside. And it was time to embrace her texture and find a haircut that shows off her natural wave.

As I cut, we talked about her plans for the year and how much progress she’s already made. Even in just her first week of changing her lifestyle, she’s lost five pounds! Just since I met her in November, I can tell there’s been a change. She seems to have more energy and her skin just glows all the time. But what I loved most about her story was that she plans to grow her hair out after this haircut. She wanted to get rid of all the dead ends to cut ties with her past and as she grows and strengthens and gets healthier everyday, so will her hair. I really appreciate that process and loved the idea! Just like anything, it takes patience to see results and I like that not only is Shannon starting over, but she’s starting fresh and beginning from a new foundation. The beauty of that concept almost rendered me speechless.

When I was done snipping off each strand, I grabbed my brush and blowdryer and worked Shannon’s natural curl into the style. All I used for product was an anti-frizz product cream from Kevin.Murphy. I stayed more natural because I wanted her to really see herself in the mirror for the end result. I really wanted it to reflect how she feels.


20150111_135443The finished look was so fabulous on her. It quite literally lifted her up and instead of drawing attention to the length that used to cascade over her shoulders on the drier and more damaged side, her new look draws you in to her face. Her eyes that sparkle with excitement. Her easy smile that breathes love to others. It took the focus off of the old and ushered in the new. It was so beautiful to be able to help her in this part of her journey. Thank you, Shannon for letting me be the hairdresser to help with this journey. And a huge thank you for letting me share your story to the world!

20150111_13555720150111_135549Behind the chair, I go through this process with a client at least once a month, so to be able to share with all of you a real story of someone making a big change, I really hope it inspires and encourages you!


Sometimes a hair appointment is just about a maintenance trim or covering the grays. But sometimes it’s really about cutting it all off and starting over.

REVIEW: The Almond Joy Body Wrap @ The Oxford Hotel Spa

**I had already planned to receive the almond joy wrap as a service, but I loved it so much, I wanted to share my experience with you guys. I am an employee of The Oxford Hotel Salon, so this is not a sponsored post, just a review and recap of a service that is now one of my faves.
Kate Allen, Senior Hairdresser @ The Oxford Hotel Salon

From Christmas Eve at the hotel.

The Oxford Hotel is known for its vintage charm and unique, beautiful architecture. It elicits a feeling of luxury and formality that calls to mind the era in which the hotel was founded. The hotel itself is a historic landmark in Denver as the first hotel in the city, erected in 1891. From those first years where the The Oxford was a “city within a city”, boasting a barber shop, saloon, library and pharmacy until present day, the hotel has maintained the original character while adding modern touches and evolving just as the city of Denver has.

The Spa Waiting Room @ The Oxford Hotel

And the spa is no exception to the historic charm and comfortable yet upscale atmosphere. Rumor has it that the tucked away rooms which are now used for massages, wraps, facials and body treatments used to make quite the brothel. Now, of course, the layout is perfect for secluded, professional treatments. And I couldn’t wait to try mine!

Lemon Water & Hot Tea @ The Oxford Hotel Spa

I was on a mission to act as a client for this service (I was off the clock after all!), so I checked in and waited for my technicians in the spa waiting area. Though I work in the salon, the spa guest area is one of my favorite places in the building. Its soft lighting, plush chairs and relaxing music make it the ultimate sanctuary to prepare for your service. And even better if you’re already in your robe and slippers, which you can request before your service and lounge in. After a couple minutes, Shannon greeted me and brought me back.

A Massage Room @ The Oxford Hotel Spa

My technicians were Shannon, Vida & Michelle. Shannon was leading a refresher course and teaching about the different options each client has when they purchase the service and Vida and Michelle were doing most of the hands on. All three of them have a great touch, were constantly asking me if I was comfortable or needed anything and were a pleasure to work with. You could tell they’ve all been in the industry a long time by their confident and soothing touch.

I started by changing and laying on the classic massage table face down. The ladies applied warm almond oil to my back, arms, neck and legs and then I turned over so that they could apply it to my chest, arms, legs and stomach. The smell was so nice and actually, quite relaxing. And as they rubbed the oil in, I felt like I was almost getting a mini massage. On each section, directly after applying the oil, they would apply the warm coconut scrub. They applied the scrub in the same fashion they did the oil, but a bit rougher to exfoliate, which I enjoyed. I love a good scrub and I especially love knowing that in the dead of winter, my skin wasn’t going to be so dry after this service.

The next step was my favorite part. A chocolate peptide mask applied first to my back while I sat up and then down to my feet on both sides of my body. All I could smell was literally an almond joy, but Shannon likes to say “without the calories”. For someone who tries to stay low sugar, it was actually really fun to wrap in that scent for awhile and just enjoy it. The chocolate mask felt really smooth and warm on my skin and was the perfect topping to the coconut scrub and the almond oil. And I also learned that the specific chocolate mask they were using from the skincare line we use, Sanitas, was actually created and formulated in their headquarters in Boulder specifically for this treatment at The Oxford. Ooooo la la! So fancy to have an exclusive product on my skin!

I also learned at this point that the mask has several awesome benefits. They rolled me up “like a burrito” so that I could relax for about 15-20 minutes and let my wrap settle in. While I lay there enjoying the smell, the warmth of the oils and the compression’s the ladies were doing on my legs and arms, Shannon explained what the mask was doing. The peptides help lift and firm the skin and the secret seaweed ingredient helps reduce cellulite. The phospholipids drive in the nutrients of the scrub and mask. Laying in a warm blanket covered in chocolate-y goodness, firming my skin, reducing cellulite and having three ladies rub my arms and legs? Yeah, it was pretty much heaven!

After I’d been in my wrap for 20 minutes, I was unwrapped and given a big, plush robe and slippers. Shannon escorted me downstairs to the locker room so that I could take a shower and rinse off all of the oils and scrub. She was such a sweetheart having set out a mat, a towel, another robe and even an extra towel should I need assistance getting the scrub off in the shower. She thought of everything! After a quick rinse in the hot shower (they advised me not to use soap because they still wanted the oils to be there), I met them back upstairs in the treatment room. I could have done a steam in the eucalyptus steam room at this point as well, but I didn’t feel like I really needed it.

I was so relaxed and in total zen mode by this point. I joked around that I probably could have fallen asleep during the wrap if I had spent less time jabbering everyone’s ears off asking questions. At this point, I got back on the bed under a huge, fleece blanket. The bed warmer was still on and keeping me nice and toasty. At this point, the ladies applied another round of warm oil to my entire body and they spent the remaining time working it in with massage techniques. A lot of clients opt to add a massage to this treatment and Shannon explained to me that should I have chosen that option, they would just begin massaging with the last few minutes of the wrap treatment and added that time onto a massage. So if I had twenty minutes left on my wrap and I added a 60 minute hot stone massage, I would have really gotten an 80 minute massage. The timing just depends on how long you take in the shower and steam.

I wanted to see what it would be like to add on the hot stone massage because I know that at The Oxford, they do it a bit differently than I’ve had. Shannon, Vida and Michelle were so kind to take the last few minutes and “prep” me for a massage so that I could experience it.

The first thing they did was dry brush my entire body. And can I just tell you… oh my gosh! I never knew how amazing it could feel to have your whole body dry brushed! Weird at first, but after two seconds, it felt sooooo good. Shannon explained that the ladies were working in long swift motions with medium pressure always towards my heart because the stimulation can help my blood circulation and help detox my system. After that, they applied a milk and honey oil and scrub to my feet, wrapped them in a hot towel and then massaged each foot. Again, heaven like!

At this point, had I added on the hot stone massage, I would have enjoyed another hour of a full body massage with warm basalt river stones and some therapeutic essential oils. During my consultation, Shannon asked me how I was feeling today in regards to my stress level, energy level and mood. I told her I was feeling like my body was a bit tired and my mind was on overdrive. When we were discussing what the massage would be, she said for someone like me, she would use a refreshing, citrus oil on my body to awake and revive my body and a nice lavender to calm my neck, shoulders and scalp. I thought that made perfect sense.

So now, naturally, I can’t wait to get back in for another treatment and that massage! Especially being that my Hawaii wedding is a year away now.. bring on the firming and smoothing! As little cellulite as possible for this bride! And bonus points, since there was a little bit of extra scrub and oil, Shannon sent me home with a little sample cup of each since they can’t reuse any once it’s been opened for a client. Thank you to Vida, Michelle and of course, Shannon for letting me try out this treatment for being so great to answer all of my questions. And for not making fun of my lack of a pedicure and wax.

If you’d like to book The Oxford Hotel Spa’s signature Almond Joy Wrap, you can do so by calling the front desk at 303.628.5435. The price begins at $144 and the treatment lasts 75 minutes. And of course, included in all services at The Oxford Hotel Spa & Salon is the use of the fitness center, the steam room, any group fitness classes and $5 valet at the hotel.

Changing the Hair Texture Conversation.

There’s a really unique problem in the beauty industry that every woman knows about. We’ve all experienced from one side of the chair to the other and none of us know how to talk about it in a politically correct and loving way. I’ll give you an example:

Awhile ago, a receptionist relayed a message to me quietly: “We had someone call in and ask if we can work with African-American hair. Does anybody do that?”

This happens on a somewhat regular basis and every time this awkward conversation begins with a hushed whisper, I’m saddened at the state of this particular issue in my beloved industry. My answer is always proudly and confidently, “Yes, of course. I work with all hair types and all women.” I’ve gotten used to answering this question and dealing with this issue, so unfortunately, it’s a common situation that I’ve become accustomed to. But why are we still so afraid of this topic? Why do we feel the need to speak about doing hair in a hushed whisper just because we are speaking about a client whose hair is simply more coarse or curly or _________ fill in the blank? Since when did their skin color become the deciding factor for whether I can take them on as a customer? I certainly didn’t pay $20,000 for my education to turn anyone away…

And perhaps most importantly, why do clients still have to call ahead and ask this question?

There was a time when I was much more naive to the segregation and misunderstanding that occurs in the beauty industry. But when I moved to Seattle and quickly immersed myself in all of the cultures around me, I had to see what was going on. Suddenly, my clientele was full of women from all ethnic backgrounds from Indian to Iranian to Chinese to African-American.

I’ll never forget one of my favorite clients, Art. She was of Japanese descent and nearly cried after our first appointment because no one had ever tried to give her volume before and I had given her the “Victoria’s Secret curls” she’d requested. I didn’t assume her thick, straight hair wouldn’t work for me.. I used what I knew about her texture and I proceeded to curl, set and spray her to bombshell perfection. And she was so happy, she sent all of her best friends to me for the same style.

And then there was the African-American woman who almost refused to come to my chair when I greeted her in the waiting area, assuming I wouldn’t know what I was doing with her texture. I coaxed her back and section by section, as I used my knowledge and my blowdryer to smooth her curls and leave her with bounce and shine, she began to open up. She apologized for being so reluctant and admitted it was clear I knew what I was doing… but she’d had so many bad experiences before that had left her disillusioned that anyone with skin as light as mine could do her hair. More often than not, her appointments left her frustrated, her stylist upset and everyone’s end goal of her having the hair she wanted totally fallen to the wayside. And more heartbreaking than any of this, she told me the stories of the many times she’d even been refused for services. Turned away and discriminated against. I couldn’t believe it!

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Gorgeous curls!

There were a lot of times when I left that little blowdry bar on Pine Street and just cried at the struggle all of my clients had become accustomed to. In fact during one meeting, after a long day and over some amazing Thai food and champagne, I saw my hard-ass boss cry for the first time. She recently had a Persian friend explain to her the power of finding a good hairdresser who wasn’t afraid of her hair. After so many failed experiences and many tears of her own, she’d recently found someone who just got it and cut, colored and styled her tresses with confidence and ease. And boy, did that feel like a huge weight off her shoulders. All of these situations affected me in a whole new way. I have always been worried when I go to a new salon or hairdresser that they might mess up my fine hair or accidentally cut my bangs too short.. but I’ve never had to worry about having someone shyly pull through my hair as if they have never seen anything like it. And I’ve certainly never been turned away. 

So what do we do about it? Now that our eyes are opened to this lack of knowledge on the part of hairdressers and salons, how do we approach it?

First, I think we shift the conversation. Somewhere along the way, I think we made this a conversation about skin color and race when it should have always been about the hair. I think that’s part of what makes it so scary for hairdressers. Speaking about hair in terms of ethnicity makes it a foreign, unknown thing. To simply avoid. And when a hairdresser is worried about offending, she’s more caught up in other factors than just giving great hair. But when we’re strictly talking hair on a client, we are talking density and length and texture, not the color of skin that hair comes out of. It makes the whole situation a bit more familiar, a bit easier and a lot more comfortable. That’s not to discount anyone’s experiences, but to break it down and simplify so that a technician can truly understand how to approach different hair types.

And gorgeous straight hair!

And gorgeous straight hair!

See, when I was a newbie myself, I was lucky to have two very amazingly talented African-American women mentor and teach me. One woman was a good friend of mine back home. She was a former salon owner in Kenya and because she couldn’t find anyone who could do her hair properly in my home state in Idaho, she taught me how to do it. Patiently and professionally, she took me through each section of the various haircuts I learned on her and she taught me what she knew. She would wait to get her haircut until I came home on vacations and we had a blast together during those days. From her, I learned how to speak to women with curly or coarse hair in a way that felt comfortable. I learned terms and techniques that she’d used in Kenya and she taught me how to use them in my chair in Colorado.

And during beauty school, I had another educator who made a strong statement on my very first day. We had four mannequins and one was a dark skinned, curly doll named “Michelle”. One of my classmates began pulling Michelle’s curls apart and confused, told our educator she had no idea where to even start with styling this doll. Without skipping a beat, my educator looked at her and said strongly, “It’s just hair. Treat it like hair.”  From her, I learned to break it down and see things for what they were. I learned that there’s no excuse for saying, “I can’t work with this hair.” I learned a beautiful simplicity in the art of hair.

At the heart of all the biases and confusion and possibly even racism that we see in this industry, I believe it all just comes down to a lack of education. A lack of understanding in technique and skill. And a lack of understanding in what exactly it is that we hairdressers exist to do.

What hairdresser doesn't want to get their hands in each of these heads of hair??

What hairdresser doesn’t want to get their hands in each of these heads of hair??

At the end of the day, hair is hair is hair is hair. It’s either coarse, fine or medium texture. It’s either thick or thin. It’s either curly, wavy or straight. And as hairdressers, our job is to know how to work with hair. It takes a lot of time to learn each hair type and to perfect your work with each. I realize that not every hairdresser can just suddenly work with curly or thick hair just because they have a new way of thinking. It still takes specialization and training and advanced education.. and tons of practice. But that’s our art: to snip, treat and style hair into what our client wants. And we must practice and practice until we are most comfortable in doing just that. For every client.

And even more heavy than that, it’s our job to help aide in the process that makes our clients feel valued, loved and beautiful. I do what I do because I believe a new haircut, a new style or fresh highlights are all just tools. I’m passionate about my techniques and what I do, but really and truly, they are all just part of the journey of helping my client feel more beautiful each time she sees me. And why would I ever leave out a huge group of women from that experience? For me, that’s not an option. So in my chair, I’ve made it my mission to know how to work with all textures of women’s hair. So that I can grow as a stylist, so that I can grow as a woman and productive, open-minded member of society. And so that I never have to make someone feel they aren’t valued in my eyes.

Images via.