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Who’s Behind the Chair? Getting to know Catalina Gomes

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The Chapel Hairdressers - Marlow

Adventurous Catalina Gomes has journeyed across the world living out her two passions — travel and hairdressing. After nine years of hairdressing, two months travelling South America, and stints working in the salons of France and Australia — Catalina’s feet are now firmly on the ground as a resident stylist at our Marlow salon. We wanted to hear more about Catalina’s exciting story, so we sat down with her to truly get to know the stylist behind the chair.

Catalina, can you tell us what inspired your career as a hairstylist?

Living in France as a teenager, I took a job as a Saturday girl in a small salon when I was 15 years old. It started off as just a job, but I really found my passion there, and it’s all I’ve ever done since. I think for me it was all about seeing the change in a person’s attitude when they step out the salon with a new lease of life.

I’ve now been a stylist for coming up to nine years, but I started off in a small salon in Guildford where I was able to nurture my skills and experiment with hair. After that, I moved to Headmasters in Reading for five years, before working for a year out in Australia during my travels. You could definitely say that hairdressing is what has allowed me to pursue so many exciting experiences across the world, as it's a skill you can take anywhere!

How does a guest’s experience at The Chapel differ to other salons?

At The Chapel, guests really feel listened to. I feel like communication is the most important part of any hairdressing experience, so having the time to really understand what a guest is asking for is so refreshing in this industry. That’s one of the great things that come with charging by time — you can talk for as long as necessary to achieve the hairstyle just right for each individual guest.

The salons themselves are also amazing places to relax. Not only is the decor of each salon unique, but they have such peaceful atmospheres too. Even when we are fully booked or having a busy period, guests immediately relax here. It’s lovely to be able to give them that personal time to just unplug from the outside world.

What is one common hair concern that guests ask for advice on?

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to achieve a natural hair look. I think most people don’t know what to do with their hair when it comes to styling, so they will turn to Instagram. But there are so many images on there that look natural and effortless but actually take a lot of styling time to achieve.

So one of the best pieces of advice I give to my guests is how to work with their hair to achieve that effortless style naturally, rather than spend hours on it, which most people can’t afford to do. There are little tweaks and tips you can suggest to guests to cut down on heat styling use, as well as reducing the time it takes to get ready. Giving guests these skills is also much more beneficial in the long run, as natural styling can improve the overall look and condition of hair too.

What’s one product that you always reach for in the salon?

Definitely salt spray. Most people like to enhance some sort of natural wave in their hair, or if they don’t have a wave, they want to create one. I love salt spray because it’s really versatile — you can layer it for a firm hold, or you can use it lightly to encourage a more prominent wave. In the salon, I find myself continually reaching for the Redken Fashion Waves Spray because its matte finish helps to achieve a really beachy look.

We hear you made it to the semi-finals of L’Oreal’s Colour Trophy 2019.
Tell us more ...

Yes, I did! I have a passion for creative colour. I love how colouring is much more complex than it seems — there’s a very delicate balance to understanding the limits you can push with colour.

The L’Oreal Colour Trophy is a yearly competition based around creative colour, with a semi-final and final in London. You send off a picture of your model’s coloured hair in natural light (unfiltered of course), and if you’re shortlisted, you get to go through to the live semi-finals in London. It was a whole event where you get to style your model head to toe with wardrobe and professional make-up and then send them down the catwalk in London. You’re judged by the top hairdressers in the industry, so it’s an honour to compete among the best colourists for such inspirational people. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into the final, but it’s definitely a career highlight of mine. If anything, it’s pushed me to compete again next year.

We’ve loved getting to know Catalina at our Marlow salon. To keep up with her hairdressing journey, be sure to follow her on Instagram. For even more stylist insights just like this, visit our blog or pop into our salons for a chat.

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