hough expert stylist and colorist Ann Minahan has a celebrity client list that has included Paula Abdul, Brett Butler and Adam Sandler—not to mention devoted clients who fly her all over the world--her approach to hair styling is decidedly down-to-earth. And the welcome she extends to non-celebrity clients is genuine and warm.
When I turned up for my appointment at her cozy salon on Mott Street, I was hoping for solutions to several problems. My hair color was in need of first aid; the highlights were a little too “Jersey” (I say this with affection, as I am a born and bred Jersey Girl) and the roots cried out for a touchup. I was also unhappy with the aftermath of a too-short haircut, which left me with nothing but bad hair days. Ann listened carefully while I explained all of this. In the past, when I took problem hair to a new salon, I would get much tsk-tsking and a lecture on why it was my bad choices that led to catastrophe—and how it would take enormous effort on the new stylist’s part to make things better. To my surprise, Ann did none of that; she said that my problems weren’t so bad and that they were easily fixable.
For the color, Ann blended two shades of permanent hair color, developed by the noted colorist Robert Craig. Though the Robert Craig line covers gray effectively, it contains no peroxide, ammonia or alcohol. The mixture Ann blended was like a rich mousse; when she applied it, there was no odor and no burning or tingling. (The line includes a “Clear” product that can be used alone to add shine to the hair or mixed with any of the 21 Robert Craig shades to create a colored gloss.)
As Ann worked, we talked a bit about her extraordinary career: her television work for Lifetime, MTV, NBC and PBS networks. Ann’s designs have been featured in corporate campaigns for Bloomingdales, Double Tree, Remy Glis and Rolex—and on the pages of Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Interview magazines. Ann does it all: bridal work, makeup, makeovers—she will even make house calls for clients in need of her unique ministrations.
When I mentioned that one of my favorite pizzerias—Lombardi’s—was just a few steps from the salon, Ann offered some history of the SoHo-meets-Little Italy neighborhood. “This building,” she said, “once belonged to Louise Nevelson.” That was impressive enough, but as it turned out, the Riah salon was once a Little Italy barbershop, where celebrities of every stripe—from Sinatra to Gotti—came for haircuts.
Understandably, the time flew by; and while the color set, I enjoyed watching the passing parade on Mott Street. When the color was rinsed off, I saw that my brassy highlights had been toned to a richer, more subtle shade, my roots had been seamlessly touched up and my hair was soft and healthy looking.
Now it was time to address my haircut. I didn’t want to lose any length, I explained, as there was so little of it. But at the same time, I needed a shaping so that I could style my hair while it was growing out. Again, no problem for Ann, who promised that I would not lose even a quarter inch in length. And with a snip here and a snip there, suddenly there was shape and manageability. Ann blew out the cut so she could see how it looked when dry, but at home, I was able to finger comb my hair and let it drip dry. Perfect.
As for the color, I was also pleased. Though I was swimming regularly in a saltwater pool and spending free time on the beach, there was less fading than usual.
The Riah salon has a full line of Robert Craig products (www.robertcraig.com), including the 21 intermixable shades, shampoos, conditioners and—my favorite—the “No More Bad Hair Days” travel kit, which contains three two-ounce ultra-concentrated shampoos, each designed to work with a different water type, one two-ounce leave-in conditioning spray, a dozen water testers, packaged in a travel bag. The strips test for water hardness so that you can choose the correct shampoo wherever you are, anywhere. And voila—no more bad hair days.
Haircuts at Riah are $80 and up for women, $60 and up for men. Full head color is $150 and up; single process color and highlighting is $130 and up and single process color, including glaze is $90 and up. The salon also offers perms, relaxers, conditioning treatments, manicures, makeup for special events and custom blend cosmetics.
Ann Minahan, Riah Salon; 209 Mott Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-925-4087; email Riahzone@earthlink.net