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Making the Cut: See a Long Hair Lifer Transition to a Lob

Welcome to Esther Tested, where surfer and Racked SF associate editor Esther Hahn shares her best tips for fitness and beauty in the Bay.

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I chopped off all my hair. Okay, so that may be an overstatement—but I did say goodbye to a good six-plus inches. The big hair decision all started with a reader’s comment that tipped me off to one of the best cuts and colors in the city. Curious about the suggestion, I walked into Veer & Wander.

Immediately, I felt at home. Entry into the salon is by way of the apothecary on Brady Street (which joyously has plenty of parking). Bottles and jars of haircare and beauty products line the walls, many from brands that I didn’t recognize. I was enthralled and intrigued, but before I could linger, my turn had come to begin my hair transformation.

Colorist—and recent SF transplant by way of LA—Skylana Roberts had the task of bringing color to my hair after an eight month hiatus from dye. Before sitting in her chair, I stopped by salon owner Connie McGrath’s station for a consultation. She only had to take one look at my face before declaring me suitable for a shorter ‘do. And I felt ready for the change, after nearly a decade with long hair.

Off I went to have some fun with Skylana. She specializes in adding color in a natural "you just came home from an amazing vacation" way. I knew I could trust her from the moment she revealed that she colors her own beautifully sunkissed tresses "at home with a bottle of champs and music".

The best color I ever saw was on a girl who lived on an organic farm for months.—Skylana Roberts

Rather than find inspiration in the standard fashion magazines, she looks to travel blogs and Instagram accounts to create her own takes on the perfect vacay color. "The best color I ever saw was on a girl who lived on an organic farm for months," she explains. "That’s the warm color I want to give to my customers—as though you’ve just been in Bali."

The first order of business was to tie my hair in a ponytail and cut it off. After the initial shock wore off, time flew as we chatted through the foils, the heat lamp, and the toners. I easily relaxed into Skylana’s capable hands and focused my attention on picking up all her beauty tips—like thermal lotion to keep legs warm and in shorts year round.

I finished with color a few minutes before Connie was ready for me, so I headed back into the apothecary to try some products, happily plied with a glass of wine. After the mini shopping break, I watched Connie sculpt my hair into the lob (the long bob) of my dreams. It was obvious from the moment Connie touched my hair (or really, from the moment she first looked at me) that she knows hair. She knew my thick strands would have a tendency to poof if not cut strategically. And magically, she kept my hair at a length that I could still tie for the occasional up-do.

The salon and apothecary is a dream realized for Connie. She grew up in Chicago, roaming the aisles at the vintage Merz Apothecary. She then proved her styling and cutting chops at the American Crew salon, (a big reason why men continue to seek out her shears here in SF). When she bought the salon—and soon after, the retail space next door in 2013—she decided to name the location Veer & Wander because she wanted it to be a place for everyone to stumble into, whether or not a cut or color would be in the cards.

Connie believes "beauty is for everyone", so she also brings pop-ups and beauty events to the store to further extend the community. The next event is Friday, February 13th, when makeup artist Ellis Faas comes to Veer & Wander to host application classes—$45 for a one-on-one session and $20 for the master class. (A recent workshop for drawing the perfect cat eye sold out so don’t delay in reserving a spot.)

I had mistakenly thought that shorter hair would mean less care.

I had mistakenly thought that shorter hair would mean less care. But after almost two weeks with my new haircut, I’ve realized that my new length actually requires more heat styling than my long locks. On the other hand, drying takes a quarter of the time, and short hair demands less product. I couldn’t be happier with my new look (and all the compliments from family and friends). I never thought I would be a short hair girl, but Veer & Wander is a magical land where beauty miracles really do happen.

Veer & Wander

6 Brady St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 864-3012