Restoring Hair and Hope with Cassey Lundell
by Jane Stringham //
Lunatic Fringe guests trust their stylists. One-and-a half years ago, master stylist Cassey Lundell’s client said to her, “I need your help.” As so many do, he was struggling with hair loss. Cassey, a 12-year veteran at Lunatic Fringe and member of the American Hair Loss Council, didn’t skip a beat: she began to research the options for clients in need of non-surgical hair replacement. Much of what she found, and what many guests find when they begin exploring options for themselves, was “a total crock,” even “overwhelming,” as put by guest Lori Keeren.
Through her research, Cassey did learn one thing: there is a major gap in the hair industry. Wig shops are largely the go-to for hair systems, but oftentimes their purveyors lack the training and the know-how to achieve the number one goal of non-surgical hair replacement services: believability. “The only people I’ve known before who wore wigs were cancer patients, and you could kind of tell,” says Lori. A master stylist like Cassey, however, wields the scissor skills and color-blending prowess to give guests like Lori, below, results that make them say, “people who don’t know me can’t tell at all.”
And, as Cassey asks, what’s the difference between a quality hair system and high-end hair extensions anyway? Similar to hair extensions, some hair pieces have a taped edge through which stylists interweave guests’ natural hair with a crochet hook-like device. Though technically similar, the latter is a service commonly available on salon menus. The former is not. Through her advocacy and research, which is just a small part of this stylist’s ever-evolving wheelhouse, Cassey hopes that non-surgical hair replacement will become normalized, that it will ubiquitously exist on salon menus as an option for guests.
In fact, some manufacturers that offer high-end hair extensions also make the non-surgical replacement pieces that Cassey uses for her clientele. “If we can imagine it, they can create it,” she says. The key is in Remy technology; it’s real human hair that is “cuticle directional.” Remy hair, then, is as uniform and directionally accurate as hair cut straight from a ponytail. This means that Cassey’s guests can style their pieces and their real hair into one cohesive shape. Color blends in smoothly, too.
“When my tape-in top piece came in, it was platinum blonde,” Lori remembers. “Cassey colored it and used a blend of different colors to make it match my natural hair…she did a great job.” Usually, Cassey starts the process by ordering a piece in the color closest to a guest’s natural hair and may go through a few blends before formally applying it. Sometimes, guests have the option to purchase a pre-made custom piece. “They come in beautiful colors,” says Cassey. But the process doesn’t stop there. Both in-salon and at-home maintenance must be consistent and high-quality. This is not to say that upkeep is difficult, however!
“I actually don’t have to wash my hair as often,” says Anthony Scott Ditty, a stylist at our Sugar House location. He saw Cassey for non-surgical hair replacement last year. Prior to his service, Anthony “wore a hat every day mostly because [my hair] was so thin and receding. Now, I get compliments every day…I love it 100% and would recommend to any guy feeling self-conscious about his hair.”
Anthony’s styling tips include washing your new hair forward, and towel-patting dry with your head facing down. “I love styling it!” he says. “When it gets wet it’s wavy/curly which is a fun, casual look. I’ve recently loved blow drying it with a brush and styling it up and off to the side.”
When he does wash his hair, Anthony (below) uses professional salon products. “A lot of hair care we recommend is actually made for real hair,” says Cassey. “Because they are made from real hair, shampooing a leave-in hair system with drug store products could ruin your investment.” In Lori’s case, she visits Cassey for touch ups about every two weeks. Between visits, she washes and blow dries her hair normally, saying that “it’s really easy to take care of.”
For interested readers, it’s worth noting that Cassey’s South Temple salon offers a private room for consultations. The service is expanding as Cassey and Salon Director Emiley Golie educate their colleagues, like stylists Kaeslyn Parkinson and Paulina Camacho: “performing the service takes a bit of training, but when you already have the aptitude to do hair, it just falls into place.” As the team grows, so does the pool of knowledge aimed at helping guests experiencing hair loss.
Of her experience, Lori says, “Cass is very understanding and compassionate, she makes you feel at ease. Knowing that so many others have those kinds of experiences similar to mine was huge.” Like Cassey’s first guest who asked for help with hair loss, Lori “totally trusts Lunatic Fringe.” In fact, Lori was a client of Angie Katsanevas’ well before she co-founded the salon.
Lori’s comments shed light on the social context of hair loss. It is an expected result of aging and genetics among men, but a less-widely discussed issue for women, whatever the cause. In Lori’s case and in many others, autoimmune disorders have begun to reduce hair density. “It is more socially acceptable for men to be bald,” says Cassey. Perhaps for this reason, Cassey feels most passionate about helping women. “It’s pretty fun to see my guests’ levels of confidence change once they’re in a system that’s right for them—it’s like if you get a new haircut!”
No matter her guests’ motivations behind their non-surgical hair replacement, Cassey takes care to blend compassion with honesty: “If I don’t think I can do it, in terms of believability and incorporating top notch human hair with customized color, then I will let them know.” But this hasn’t happened yet. Of the growing list of clients who have come in for a consultation, she’s been able to help them all! Schedule a simple, private consultation with Cassey at South Temple online here.