Be

Could This Hair Treatment Change Your Life?

A visit to a hair salon—whether you’re chopping or trimming, coloring or just brightening up—nearly always involves a level of transformation that goes well beyond the nuts and bolts of the cut or the highlights you came in for. Andi Scarbrough, a renowned stylist and colorist who co-owns the chic, airy Framed Salon in Santa Monica, recognizes and builds upon that phenomenon in her practice, which blends spiritual psychology—incorporating body and energy work, essential oils, crystals, and more—with hair coloring, styling, and treatments. An hour with Andi, for many goop staffers, has proved seriously transformative; here, she shares her process, along with ways to stimulate the seventh, or Crown chakra (it’s at the top of your head, hence its relevance to hair and hair stylists) on your own at home.

A Q&A with Andi Scarbrough

Q

Why are haircuts (and treatments, and coloring) so significant for many of us?

A

For a lot of people, a hair appointment is a rare and special time of sitting still and sometimes, being touched. In this space, issues frequently come up. It’s one of the only small, semi-mandatory self-care experiences in which most of us indulge. Most people don’t have energy healers on standby, or a therapist or coach they see regularly. So as a regular and long-standing point of contact in many of my client’s lives, I have a unique perspective and, I believe, a responsibility to honor that intimate access and connection they have granted me.

Q

You talk about the unique power of hairdressers—do you think certain personality types are more drawn to this work?

A

A huge chunk of the beauty industry falls into the Jungian archetype of the Wounded Healer. Many of us get into this business because we want to make others feel good, because making them feel good makes us feel good. The perspective of the hairdresser is also incredibly unique; we collect experiences, which gives us an expanded point of view. We have the ability to relate a certain sameness among people, to dispel the illusion of separation and secret shame that prevents many from healing.

It’s only through our work of healing our own wounds around approval, addiction, and permission to self-express that we can effectively be both guide and technician in this incredibly tender place where we meet our clients. If a stylist has not done their own work, as in the archetype of the Wounded Healer, they can inflict their own wounds on others, inadvertently increasing need for approval, chasing trends, and teaching clients to seek wisdom outside themselves. This is the epidemic of the beauty industry: discouraging people from trusting their own judgement. Stylists can sometimes fall into a trap of needing to be hero-worshiped in order to feel cool enough to make other people feel cool. This is why from an energetic perspective it is so important to find a stylist (and salon atmosphere) that feels in alignment with you. Your stylist should encourage and assist in your self-expression, not creating a dependency, where they tell you how you should present yourself to the world.

Stylists have the beautiful opportunity to stand in a place of non-bias and witness whatever their clients may be experiencing (maybe it’s a breakup, conflict at work, or being confronted with a fear of aging). We offer a safe space for them to be heard, an audience with whom to test-drive ideas, that won’t judge them or hold them accountable to action. In essence, we provide a place for a real, raw honesty, which is hard to come by—in a world of super connectivity, a real human interaction has become quite a commodity. It’s our job to make clients feel like the world sees them as the stunning creatures they are, and I personally want that feeling to last longer than the blow-dry.

Q

Culturally, cutting hair is often a significant ritual—can you explain a little bit about what this means, and what cutting hair signifies?

A

Haircuts can signify everything from a specific spiritual practice to marriage status, depending on the culture. Hair is ceremoniously cut in rituals from birth to death, in numerous cultures around the world. A haircut can be an offering to bless the transition of an infant into the physical world; shaving one’s head is traditionally done in mourning to signify humility and the relative impermanence of such a loss. In Hindu, the ritual of Viaragya signifies the detachment or renunciation of the material world in an effort to hone the spiritual connection within.

Since the hair acts as an energetic antenna between realms and to the environment, a haircut can also be means of psychic protection. Hair is cut or not cut, piled high on the head or worn loose in effort to direct energy toward, or protect the expansion of, the Crown and upper chakras.

In modern Western culture, we often cut our hair after big life changes, like a college graduation or divorce; we may not have a conscious understanding of its spiritual impact, yet we feel compelled nonetheless. In Shamanic practice, there is a ceremony called a Cutting of Cords, a release of old energies, patterns, beliefs, and connections.

What I know to be true is that each strand of hair is a tiny chronicle of emotional, hormonal, and nutritional experience. Most people with shoulder-length hair are carrying with them the last three to six years of every sickness, setback, or traumatic incident. At the very least, an intentional clearing of that energy is beneficial; sometimes, the only ceremony that will suffice is a ritual haircut. On occasion, it takes a big external change to let Spirit know you are serious about the intention you are setting.

Q

What sort of energetic changes can attention to the seventh (Crown) chakra bring about in people?

A

The Crown chakra connects us to our higher self/Spirit/universal truth/God/source/whatever you feel comfortable calling it. When there is a blockage or interference in the Crown chakra, one might feel confused, isolated, or disconnected (from other people or from Spirit). A person with a blockage in the Crown may find themselves running in analytical circles with chronic indecision, lack of focus, or questioning their own judgement.

All of these issues come up in the chair, which is part of the reason assimilating this practice into my work in the beauty industry has been so fluid: We tend to dismiss Crown-related issues as trend-chasing, or vanity, but they really reflect a lack of access to a deep level of self-validation, something that no hairdresser can color or style into the hair. After addressing these issues by working to clear the Crown, most people feel less anxious, more self-assured, lighter, and more connected. There is a certain magic to the naming and symbolic release of what no longer is of service, and once space has been cleared, a client may find themselves able to access the higher self knowing that is always available; they may find it easier to make decisions, or even experience a sudden burst of clarity while in the chair.

Q

You do a very specific and special ritual around the seventh chakra—what’s entailed, and what do many people experience?

A

The ritual that I perform differs for each client. There are many different elements to consider, and just like my hair-color bar, it becomes an apothecary of unique, prescriptive combinations of services suited to an individual client’s needs and openness. For some clients, there is a guided meditation before a haircut (similar to a shamanic cutting-of-cords ceremony) to symbolically release old experiences and beliefs that are no longer of service. For others, it is a gentle shoulder massage (with a little Reiki energy infusion) while they discuss the motivation for their big change. Some people want to have a third-eye-opening, essential-oil infusion during their deep conditioning treatment, while others just want an “extra-relaxing aromatherapy” added to their steam towel. Some clients know oils like clary sage or palo santo are clearing, others just enjoy the fragrance.

The beautiful thing about energy work and meditation is that it becomes a totally unique experience. We usually start with a few deep breaths together: This allows me to sync up with someone else’s energetic field. (Similar practices are used in both healing practices and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to ease into alignment with another person.) During these breaths, I may be verbally or silently calling in Spirit’s assistance, asking permission to access someone’s energetic field, and for information in service of the highest healing during our session. From there, everyone is different: Sometimes a person experiences colors, sensations, visuals, or imagery, or receives words/messages directly. Sometimes we share these out loud, but not always.

Recently, I walked someone through a gorgeous, somewhat impromptu process of identifying her experience of love as a volume dial. Slowly, we turned it up tick by tick as she grounded herself in recognizing what higher levels of love might feel like in her body. It was probably the most moving experience I’ve ever had with these treatments. That being said, she is someone I have a relationship with, who is familiar with this scope of work, so we were really able to go deep in this process.

For someone less experienced or more tentative about the whole thing, the process can be more subtle or nonverbal—but that doesn’t mean it’s less effective. Healing meets us at the intersection of willingness and capacity. I remember my teacher, Ramonica Patterson, telling me during one of my Reiki attunements not to be worried if my hands went cold mid-session. (I experience Reiki as heat and nerve pricks and sometimes numbness in my hands.) She told me that Spirit knows how much a person needs, and may sort of “auto-shut off” if the person reaches capacity. Also, to trust my intuition about how verbal or nonverbal to be during a session—which took some practice! For some people, speaking takes them deeper into a meditative state, for others, it can be disruptive. The Energy always knows what we need, and never gives us more than can be handled.

I find crystals really helpful in focusing intention setting; each stone has unique intrinsic properties and healing attributes. Keeping crystals at my workstation—smokey quartz for transmuting negative energy into positive, watermelon tourmaline for fostering self love and acceptance of hard emotional lessons—reminds me of my personal intentions. And they are so pretty!

I also love gifting: Sending my client home with a stone reminds them of their intention and our time together; seeing the beauty of that stone can remind them of the gorgeous way they experienced themselves in my chair.

Q

Can you incorporate elements of the seventh chakra treatment at home?

A

The blockages that come up in the Crown do not resolve overnight, and while this treatment can be as cathartic and gratifying as a chiropractic adjustment, the environmental or situational causes of the interference may present themselves again.

An at-home hair treatment is a great opportunity for a weekly Crown chakra check-in! Give yourself 10-20 minutes. Remember, the Crown is where we receive intuitive guidance and connection to our higher self or higher power. Make it a purposeful practice: You can also ask questions or request guidance in this time. Some tips:

  • It can can be a highly therapeutic to practice even a 5-minute free-form writing exercise before you start a hair treatment. This brain-dump should serve to purge any mental residue (angers, judgements, frustrations) that may have built up during the week. Don’t worry about it making sense or being legible—and never re-read your free-form writing; always destroy the paper when you are finished. On the flip side, you can also use this time to list the insights you received during the week—since vibrationally, what you give attention to you get more of.

  • Apps like Headspace and Omvana are great tools if you prefer guidance or structure (and a timer!) with your meditative treatment. You can select from many very specific offerings from acceptance and anxiety to dealing with illness. I also love the Chakra Tuner app. It tones all the way up (or down) the entire chakra system in seven minutes. You can also set a timer on one specific chakra (the Crown or another place in your body where you’re aware of disturbance) and just listen to that. Sound is really helpful for me personally in quieting my mind, and when I first got into a mediation practice, chanting/toning along with an app really helped me stay present.

  • Water has always been renowned as a highly effective spiritual conduit. At the salon, we recommend a clarifying shampoo before a treatment to remove build-up or residue that might block the receipt of the nourishment in a hair mask.

  • Try adding a drop or two of essential oils to your favorite hair mask or regular/daily conditioner. You can add to any pre-made deep conditioning mask, or make your own oil treatment using a carrier oil: Jojoba oil and coconut oil are great carrier oils for all hair types, while almond oil is great for an irritated scalp, and pumpkin-seed oil stimulates growth. Lavender is a good go-to—not only for its aromatic benefits, but it’s amazing for hair and scalp health as well.

  • Bonus: Holding a crystal helps with your focus and intention during the treatment. These are some of my favorite stones:

    • Amethyst: Heightens intuitive connection, works to break addictive behaviors, promotes overall balance.

    • Selenite: Energizing; promotes mental clarity and breaks through the fog of negative thought patterns.

    • Hematite: Grounding; brings us back into the body; protects and absorbs negative energy.

    • Rose quartz: Heart-opening stone of love; facilitates forgiveness and helps release feelings of animosity.

Q

We know you’re big on essential oils—are there ways you recommend incorporating them into our routines/hair rituals?

A

Essential oils can be used a number of ways. To gain the maximum benefits, use pure, organic oils. Ideally, these are paired with a meditative practice for a deeper or more meaningful experience. Try this:

  • Do an inhalation with the oils: Rub a drop or two between the palms to open the aroma and take a few deep inhalations through hands cupped around the nose, bringing the healing power of the oils into your body. This also allows for the clearing of the hands (we have energy centers there, too!) before you move on to work elsewhere.

  • You can massage and stimulate chakras in your face and head, as well: Apply a few drops to your fingertips and apply pressure first at the center of the brow, then center of the forehead, the curve of the head right at the hairline, and then the top of your head, holding a couple seconds in each spot. This creates movement in the Third-Eye chakra, and can allow for deeper intuitive access during the meditation. If you notice a particular sensation on any of these points, breathe into it to deepen and explore.

  • Next, move to pressure points behind the ear. Add a drop or two more oil if you desire, and work an inch or so at a time from behind the earlobe, up over the ear, arriving at the temples. With index fingers on the temples, place thumbs at the hinge of the jaw. We hold a great deal of tension here, and you might gently massage the muscle that bulges as you gently open and close your jaw. If you notice a tightness or sensitivity, try to stretch your mouth open as wide as it will go, and push the lower jaw out a bit. Take a deep breath and release it with a sound. These movements are making space for energy to move from the Throat chakra—where many of us also experience blockages—on upward through the Third Eye and into the Crown.

  • Lastly, trace the thumbs around to the center of the back of the skull until they meet in the middle, beneath the occipital bone. With your thumbs, press and lift gently here, reaching the index and middle fingers to the high point of the head. Hold this pressure for two to three deep breaths, then release. Lightly and vigorously run your fingers over the rest of the scalp to increase blood flow, move loosened energetic debris, and ensure your treatment is evenly distributed through your hair.

  • The soles of the feet also rapidly absorb the benefits of essential oils. Reflexology points related to the adrenal glands are found near the arch, and the pineal gland is at the center of the big toe. A final dab of oil in these places can be a lovely way to carry this clear, relaxed feeling into a mediation, and/or throughout the rest of your day.

Q

What are some of your favorite oils to use?

A

Whether as regular maintenance or home self-treatment, there are a few oils I recommend:

Blue lotus: Evokes a more open connection to Spirit; enhances meditation by stimulating the pineal gland; grants and an overall sense of beauty.

Melissa: This is used for facilitating a lightness of being, relaxation, and mild elevation; and soothes the nervous system. It’s also great immune support, so a good overall choice for someone dealing with a serious illness.

Clary sage: Clears and balances energy, alleviates depression and anxiety, and also wonderful for scalp issues and to encourage hair growth! As it balances hormonal issues, cleary sage can be great for someone with menopausal symptoms or menstrual irregularity, especially.

Lavender: This oil is made for the Crown! Not only does it evoke a sense of peace and tranquility, but use it with steam and breathe deep because it’s great for the respiratory tract as well. It’s also a dream for the hair, from scalp to ends. Its antiseptic properties are great for treating mild scalp irritations, and it increases blood flow to the scalp, and nourishes the hair strand.

SHOP THE STORY
You may also like