The only time I’ve spent nine straight hours doing anything was when I binge-watched the first season of Homeland. Or at least that was the case until I got highlights from Johnny Ramirez. When he’s not creating Pinterest-worthy hair color at the Ramirez/Tran salon in Beverly Hills, he travels the country spreading his “lived-in hair color” gospel. On his last visit to New York, I was lucky—yes, lucky—enough to spend nine magical—yes, magical—hours in his chair.
This all might sound a little crazy, because it is, but take a quick scroll through Ramirez’s Instagram feed and you’ll see why hundreds of people have chosen to devote up to 11 hours at a pop with this man, repeatedly. Before my appointment, I had to fill out a college application-length form about my hair history. I also sent in photos of my current color and an inspiration image, the above shot of Jessica Alba (which happens to be Ramirez’s handiwork). One indication of what the day had in store should have been the 7 a.m. appointment time. On a Sunday.
Ramirez’s work is inspired by his daughter’s natural California-beachy hair. “I’ve created a technique that is the closest thing to duplicating kids’ hair,” he says. “I can do this on blondes, brunettes, and redheads.” With his multistep method, he’s able to create in one day what would often take multiple appointments to achieve. And because his color lasts five to six months, you won’t have to hit the salon very often (unless you want to cover grays). Ramirez told me he’s turned away clients who try to come back for a three month touch-up.
On the day of my appointment, I dragged myself to the salon at 6:50 a.m., coffee and phone charger in hand. Throughout the morning, I moved from chair to chair and assistant to assistant. Five hours (and many rolls of foil) later, I was back in Ramirez’s hands, ready for the fairy dust. He teased sections of my hair and brushed the ends with bleach, then scrunched it up into little foil balls, which is his trademark (he calls it “tipping”). He and his assistant worked so fast that by the time I looked up from my “Which Full House Character Are You?” Buzzfeed quiz (I’m Michelle, by the way), I looked like an electrocuted Christmas tree bedecked with silver ornaments. (See terrifying photo below.) I had been warned that things might get a little crazy during the process, so I wasn’t too alarmed.
After another couple of hours, it was time to brush out my knotted mane. It took Ramirez’s assistant 20 minutes to untangle the mess. Yes, she was gentle, and yes, it still hurt. At this point, my color looked more Pamela Anderson than Jessica Alba. But the next step—using a toner to create dark roots, a Ramirez signature—turned everything around. An assistant painted the toner all over my roots, carefully avoiding the front pieces. After a rinse and rough dry, Ramirez came over for a final inspection, which I failed. Back to the sink for another round of toner. Shoot me now. But Ramirez gets a gold star attention to detail. By the final wash and blowout, it was 4 p.m. Nine hours had passed, and I finally had an after shot.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. I couldn’t believe the transformation. In the weeks since, I’ve been asked many times if I was blonde as a child. Nope. But I am as an adult!
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