When you’ve been in an industry for more than 30 years as Kristen King has, you learn a few things along the way.
The owner of Ringlets & Roots hair salon in Oldtown Salinas said there are two lessons she’s taken to heart: First, embracing the miracle of natural curls, and secondly, using natural and organic products to protect and nourish hair.
King, who recently moved her salon to a lovely upstairs space in a historic building, said that it took her many years to learn about her own curly hair and how to make curls look their best for her clients and herself.
King, who calls herself “a curl coach,” said that most stylists don’t know what to do with naturally curly or wavy hair, and many just want to straighten it. However, working with natural curls and making them look their best is not only healthier for hair, but also for peace of mind.
Seeing your curls as an asset rather than a hindrance is “a big emotional deal,” she said. Some of her clients have actually cried when they see the result of King’s cut and styling that enhances their curls and celebrates them, rather than obliterating them.
“I really like helping a curly person embrace their curls and care for them. That’s what I do every day,” said King. “You want to have a hairdresser who knows how to work with your hair rather than beat it into submission.”
King has been inspired by celebrity stylist Lorraine Massey, who has led the charge for women to accept and love their curly hair. She uses Massey’s DevaCurl line of hair products in her salon, and has also been certified in advancing cutting and styling techniques for curly hair, also through DevaCurl.
Cutting curl by curl and cutting hair while dry is essential to helping curly hair look its best, she said, and also using the right kinds of hair care products. Many products are not formulated for curly hair and may cause it to frizz or dry out.
King also carries the Loma line of products for her non-curly clients, also made from natural and organic ingredients.
King also carefully selects the products that she uses in her salon in order to keep her customers healthy and to protect the environment, using products that are sulfate, silicon and paraben-free. Toxicity problems with hair care products has long been an issue in the hair care industry, but now King is happy to offer the Natulique line of hair products made in Denmark and recently introduced to the United States.
Natulique’s permanent hair color products are ammonia and paraben-free and contain certified organic and natural ingredients, but also cover 100 percent of gray hair, King said. Even the packaging for Natulique is made from recycled paper, she said.
Being able to share these products with her clients is important to her, she said: “I try things before anyone else does. I love opening people’s hearts and minds and eyes.”
King also takes to heart the concept of green and sustainable living in her salon décor, which uses repurposed picture frames, barn wood and vintage shabby chic furniture to enhance her space overlooking Main Street. The building, recently refurbished, holds a sense of history and grace.
Adding to the relaxed atmosphere at Ringlets & Roots is the fact that King is the only stylist there. “I work one on one,” said King, who notes that has been her standard for many years. “My clients love it.”
She will spend between 90 minutes to two hours in an initial session with new clients, talking to them about their hair and how they’d like it to look. King has experience with wavy, curly and multicultural hair, and her clients range from children to seniors.
Moving to Salinas from her former salon on the Monterey Peninsula felt like the right thing to do, and her clients have followed her there. King was in Carmel for 11 years before deciding to reduce her commute and take the salon space in Salinas.
King also believes in giving back, and will participate in the Keep a Child Alive charity for children with AIDS on Sept. 12-13 in a massive “cut-a-thon” in Olympia, Washington, along with other hair stylists from around the United States.
King loves what she does, especially when she helps others make the most of their curly locks.
“It’s most gratifying. I’ve got a passion for this,” she admits.
Kathryn McKenzie, who grew up in Santa Cruz and now lives on a Christmas
tree farm in north Monterey County, writes about sustainable living,
home design and health for numerous publications and websites.