Zoe Clark on how she fixed Toni's hair

Publish Date
Monday, 12 February 2024, 6:03AM

We Need To Talk Beauty

In this episode, Toni Street catches up with Zoe Clark.

Zoe, owner of Inco Studio, brought Toni's hair back to life after a series of set backs across her life.

Hear how she did it, what the process was like, how long it took, and how you can get your hair back too!

Plus, the hair product recommendations you need to know.

New We Need To Talk episodes every second Monday.

Full transcript below.

Toni: Hello there. Welcome to We Need To Talk. Let's talk hair. I don't know about you, but I did not appreciate my hair when I was young. I had thick, glossy mane, which I used to straighten within an inch of its life, tie it up when it was wet. And by damn, I didn’t know what I had until it was gone. Now my hair damage story is probably an extreme example, I was on a huge concoction of anti-organ rejection drugs. That was to combat an autoimmune condition which included steroid infusions, mycophenolate, methotrexate just to name a few of the drugs, it literally sizzled my hair. It fell out in clumps, changed its colour, and it was like a coarse piece of straw. It was so bad, I had to cut it all off and a bob which I'd never had in my life, and I wore here pieces to thicken it out when I was hosting seven sharp on TVNZ. That was in my early 30s, and right after I'd had my second baby Mackenzie. So fast forward eight or so years, I'm now 40, and I feel like I finally got my hair back. But there were many years of substandard hair in between. I got it back because of hair guru Zoe Clark. She's the owner of Inco hair salon and Ponsonby in Auckland. Now, this is not sponsored in any way -I pay for my own here. But it's gotten to the point where Zoe has helped so many people I know fix the damaged here that I need to let you know about it and how you can get your hair back too. So it's lovely to have you here.

Zoe: Thank you. Nice to be here.

Toni: No pun intended. And I have to say a massive thank you to you, because I feel like I wasn't gonna get my hair back. And now it is looking healthy again. And I'm really surprised, because I feel like I'm someone that's usually across, you know, hair and beauty. And I thought, you know, I thought I had done everything to try and get it back. And now suddenly, it's nice again. So can you just tell the story of when I first came into your salon? And how you have sort of fixed it across the last year or so?

Zoe: Yeah, absolutely. So when we first met, we sat down on the chair, and we had some situations going on. So I blocked out quite a bit of time, just so I could keep an eye on your hair, the lifting process and just really make sure that there was no additional heat coming off anything, or a reaction to anything. So we did that, really gently lifted it up. And it was absolutely fine. So then we sort of plumped it full of moisture, some bonding treatments, lots and lots of nourishment and just really made sure that we didn't overlap any of the lightener and just lifted it as slowly and cleanly as possible just to keep the integrity of the hair nice and strong.

Toni: Can you be honest, what did you think when you first saw my hair? And the state? 

Zoe: It was the worst I've ever seen.

Toni: Tell me what, what what was wrong with it. And you can be brutal, because I'm fine now.

Zoe: Well, the whole front was gone so, and it wasn't just gone. The ends were so sizzled that you literally like heat, putting any heat on it would be terrifying. So yeah, we had to be really careful where we put the colour as well. And obviously with the breakage at the front, that's where we kind of want our lightness. So we really had to navigate that and treat that hair really carefully to make sure that that breakage didn't travel any further, because then we would have had no front at all.

Toni: Just to give you a visual, it looked like I'd cut a weird crittery type fringe - and I wasn't even intending to have a fringe.

Zoe: It's like when the kids grab it and chop it.

Toni: Yes, exactly, and it was kinda sticking up because it was so coarse.

Zoe: Short, it didn't have the weight, especially on the ends.

Toni: I was having to clip it like I was five again, just so that I could manage it. What makes the hair go like that? Are there several reasons as to why you can have your hair so out of shape?

Zoe:Yeah, so there's a few factors. So, lots of things that environment, stress, medication, overlap too much colour, too much heat styling, just unnecessary damage. Overlapping of lightener or light hitting the hair hard and fast can cause that kind of reaction, especially if the colour has been pulled right through the ends. Combat that with heat styling, and just lack of moisture, dehydration and the hair it can get like that, but like I said that was the worst I have seen. 

Toni: Yeah. And it was certainly the worst my hair had been in my life. So I'm very thankful to have it back in a sort of credible state now. I'm getting there. I'm getting there and has taken over a year. So what if people are in a similar situation to me and they just I don't know what to do with the hair? Obviously go and see a reputable salon. But what else can we be doing ourselves like at home to make sure we're not making the problem worse?

Zoe: I think a good mixture of like a really good hair care routine, but combating that within the salon as well. So whatever your hairdresser or hair stylist or colourist tells you you need on your hair, trust that advice, take those products home. I always forgo, if the hair is really dehydrated forgo your conditioner, pop in a mask instead, you're gonna get more benefits from that. It's more concentrated. But really trust that advice. Because if you're spending this money, trying to sort your hair out, and then you go in and throw in some hair care that might not be exactly what you need or hindering or layering the hair in some way, then we're trying to combat it again. It's not going to get any better. So you're making sure your home hair care routine is as best as it can be. And then also heat particularly if you are lighter, and then you are heat styling a lot. Make sure you've got the best heat protectant you can.

Toni: And when you say a heat protectant when does that go on the hair?

Zoe: So pre blow dry.

Toni: And then pre heat or styling?

Zoe: Yeah, so I would put one in pre blow drying. And you see there's lots of memes on Instagram where they're testing Color Wow, which is one that we have the Dream Coat spray carousels, products and a bunch of other products and they light them on the end of a cotton bud and show you how much they burn. It's really interesting. So if you see those, the best one, the carousels and the Dream Coat by colour? Well, a phenomenal they barely, barely change. And then you see some other ones that just completely blow up. Yeah. So you want to make sure on every bottle, if you turn on the back, it's got the degree of heat protection on it. So you know, you'll be protected. 50 degrees, 200 degrees, 400 degrees.

Toni: Okay, so what's your degree prediction you want?

Zoe: So when you turn your irons on, you can obviously control that heat setting. So you whatever setting you are using, whatever your hair needs to get the smooth result that you want, you want to make sure you're covered there. So if it's 200 degrees, you want to go for something 200 degrees and above hate protection. 

Toni: Okay,  that makes total sense. So in terms of a hair care routine, because I feel like we talk a lot about skincare, hair care kind of gets left away, but what what should your routine look like in a week and I mean, right down to when how many times you should be washing, what you should be putting on it, what what would be the sort of optimum of people are wanting to get their hair back.

Zoe: All depending on the health of your scalp as well. So that is a massive factor, how often you exercise, what your oil production is, if you're on the drier side. So those play a massive factor in terms of how often you should wash your hair. I always say two to three days. Again, if you've got really thick care, your scalps absolutely fine, you're gonna go once a week. But that's all depending on what's going on. But I would say as a general rule two to three days as healthy. Again, depending on what product you're using two shampoos, always so cleansing your scalp twice. So the first one will just remove any oil, dirt, impurities, lift anything off your scalp, any product build up. And then the second depending on the range that you're using will go on and the benefits that are in that shampoo will then penetrate into the cuticle. And then depending on the condition, you can either go in with conditioner, just raking it through your ponytail, leaving it in for a couple of minutes or your mask at that stage. And then leave that in for a few minutes as well.

Toni: If you've got the dry hair, then you definitely throw in in the mask.

Zoe: Yeah I would even if it's only a temporary switch out like say for one pot of mask, you swap out your conditioner, get through that one and then go back if you see an improvement, but it's just more concentrated and you're gonna get softer, smoother result.

Toni: I think I mentioned at the start, you know, I remember being told at one point when I was younger, don't tie your hair up when it's wet. What do you think are some of the common mistakes that perhaps we do like that one? And obviously when you tie your hair when it's wet it can damage the hair right because it's wet and you sort of tie within an inch of its life.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah. So you notice like a lot of people, especially a few girlfriends of mine, they always pull their hair tight back. And the reason they do it wet is because they find that throughout the day it lasts better and that's - they don't have to blow dry it smooth and then tie it up they've kind of put the hairspray on while it's wet and it stays that way which is great.

Toni: It's a very in style to have that slicked back look. 

Zoe: Yes, absolutely. But when the hairs wet obviously strictures because the elasticity in the hair, so when you're pulling it within an inch of its life, tossing it round. When that hair dries, it starts to shrink. So that's when the breakage happens. And depending on how you tie your hair, if it is really tight, that's unavoidable. It's going to happen. You'll notice some people will have sort of a hair loss or breakage around the front because it's pulled so tight. And that's obviously the furthest tension. But yeah, depending on what you're tying with as well, if it's a hard core elastic, and you are really tightening that, you'll see the ends where you do tie as well. They'll go a little frayed and a little drier. You'll see some broken bits happening there. But yeah that is the reason why so when it when it shrinks, yeah, when it shrinks back. That's when the breakage can happen. Because it's kind of trying to go back to its natural state when it's dry, but yet, you've pulled it into the state when it's wet. And it just can't kind of when, especially if it's quite a common habit on the daily.

Toni: Okay, so try and dry it first before you type.

Zoe: Yeah, or I've recommended for some of my clients if they shampoo at night, it's depends on your routine set. Some people have really strict habits and they can't not jump in the shower without shampooing the hair and things like that. So depending on your habits, but I always say if you do want to do that, if you can shampoo at night, blow dry your hair at night, and then go back in with your sleek little bit of water, a little bit of hydration, absolutely fine. But when all of the links are saturated, that's when you're going to have your problem.

Toni: Why do you think, because my story is not actually an isolated story. And I've got a couple of friends of mine and Laura McGoldrick won't mind me naming her, they were in a similar situation and trying to get their hair back as well. Why do you think so many people have got damaged hair at the moment?

Zoe: h, that's a hard one, to be honest, I think. Yeah, it's definitely a hard one. I think our industry is definitely having some challenges at the moment. So I think if you can't get your hands on the best products available, there might be some ones that aren't so great. Sometimes those can cause severe dryness on the hair, depending on the ingredients of it. I always say if you can have the best products available, then why not? But unfortunately, it's not within everyone's means to do so. So that can be one factor. I think, again, like we mentioned earlier, combating a bit of overlapping of the colour, the colour, the peroxide mix with the colour, the level is too high for the hair needed. Hard and fast. Yeah. And that that can be a bit of a trend as well, that will get you in and out as fast as possible. Or I need a header as hard as I can. Which yes, in some cases, absolutely. But combat that with severe heat styling, it's not going to end well.

Toni: Can you talk me through some of the success stories you've had, obviously, I'm one of them. How do people react when you take they're here from you know, a state to having it back where it's manageable and looks pretty good?

Zoe: Yeah, it's, it's so nice, but my thing is, is it sucks to have been there in the first place. So in some situations and like Laura's like I was the kind of not the enemy. But I had to take a slightly darker to then enable us to go lighter, which some people might be like, well, you can't do that, that's going to cause more damage on the hair. But not in this case, because we had different banding and things like that. Another client of mine who you also know, had a similar thing where a colour was put on the roots unnecessarily. So I had to lift all of that colour out and foil to then enable some of her natural to come through. So I always feel like initially I'm not giving you what you want, but we get there in the end, which is awesome. But yeah, for me, it's a humbling journey because unfortunately, I feel a little bit let down because you shouldn't have been there in the first place. But I'm happy that I can sort of and, I have the trust, to get you back on track and where you need to be so it's a nice experience for me but a little bit devastating at first because I'm like, what, you shouldn't be you know.

Toni: Yeah, yeah, it was one thing that I have learned too is it's not necessarily all gonna get sorted out in one appointment. You know, here I am a year later sitting here really really happy. So I guess you know, it takes a while to to ruin your hair and it's gonna take a little while to get back to its natural state. In terms of trends of hair for going into I guess this summer and and 2024 What would you say is popular? What do you think is what can you predict?

Zoe: Trends are a funny one, they sort of used to be really prevalent and you would notice that massive trends shift between seasons or years or anything like that. I think now we've had a lot of clients cutting their hair off. I think that there was a model coming through the UK out of the UK summer and you just see her sort of getting out of the beach and her little French barbers looking super cute. So we've had lots of those and we always go either way longer or shorter and summer, depending on what people like to do. We are seeing lots of lots of the bobs, again, like brighter cleaner blondes, I think those are always always a hit and summer but it's really customizable now to the to the client and kind of what they want to do. There's no standout trends, like I saw there was this viral Tiktok makeup trend the other day, and it was something about like, men crushing or something like that. Like it was quite hard. So it was I can't remember exactly what it was called. But it went viral. But yeah, we haven't had, we had the Scandi hairline which was massive coming out of winter and that was just your sort of pop of face framing right on your hairline. Yeah, with sort of like melting, colour melts and things like that. We are seeing a few warmer tones which is quite nice. Yeah, but still still your same lived on smudgy glossy colour.

Toni: Yep, that's what I like to go for. Very boring. In terms of products if you could leave us today with some recommendations. I know you mentioned earlier the Kerastase. What are your faves that people might like to go out and get to protect they're here all year round?

Zoe: There are three ranges which are our bestsellers from the carousels collection. So we have the chroma range which is for coloured and highlighted hair. So they have two different shampoos depending on the thickness and then they have a conditioner, a mask and then your heat protectant as well. There is a take home treatment that you can do to and that range and that just promotes shine and a pH balance of the links. The nutritive range of your hair is on a slightly drier side, and [if] you need some hydration that's a beautiful range - I've got everything you would need in that range! And then the blonde absolute, so the kiss blonde absolute range for your blondes. You've got your purple shampoo and their mask as well and then there's two other shampoos one for highlighted here and one for really, really dehydrated lightened here and that is beautiful. Again, they've got your heat protections and all of those ranges, but any of those would cover every head of hair and every hair colour type as well. And those three ranges but they're beautiful. Yeah, you'll really feel the benefits instantly which is nice.

Toni: Zoe thank you so much. And thank you for fixing so many people's hair and for sharing your tips today. And of you're someone like me that had hair that was, you just didn't know what to do with, hopefully this has given you a bit of inspiration today, that you can get it back, it can be back to nearly its former glory of when you were young when you didn't appreciate it, and you can take that away today.


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