Written by Kristan Serafino
As a hairstylist sometimes your worst client is another hairstylist. Today I was that person! Very much like the fable of the shoemakers kid, it seems as if you are forever standing behind the chair styling hair and never sitting in the chair having your hair styled. Today was my lucky day. My friend and Celebrity Colorist Tohmas Gustaf Elmlund was kind enough to take me on as his client. Tohmas had his hands full….
As a hairstylist I can be slightly rambunctious and have too much fun playing with all the samples of hair products that are sent to me for reviews. What makes me even more excited is when bottles upon bottles of hair color are sent my way. Normally this would not seem like a big deal given I am a hairstylist. But since I specialize in hair cutting and not hair coloring this is not always a good thing….giggle! And I can tell you from trial & error, being a hair colorist is truly a blend of science and art.
I showed up for my appointment with Tohmas with 3″ of roots and ends that had been over darkened by my fun, yet unsuccessful at-home color experiments. Sorry Tohmas, next time I will listen to that little voice telling me, “step away from the hair color.” Tohmas spent ample time consulting over my best possible options. We looked at a few magazines, chattered further, and a short while later Tohmas had figured out what my eye saw as the “right” hair color.
Tohmas then adeptly led me in what seemed like a well choreographed dance. He worked his way up to reveling his recommendation by first describing how my skin complexion, has to interact with my eye color, that has to complement my fashion sense, that has to work with my haircut, all the while taking into account my persistence that my hair color should look like Julia Roberts with a splash of Angelina Jolie. (I know don’t we all want that…giggle) Tohmas suggested I had two options. I could be a golden brunette or brunette taken in a slight reddish direction, which he favored because it would give more “pop” to my skin tone. In the end I put my color in the trustworthy hands of Tohmas, but not without a last ditch hint that I would love to be considered as a candidate for his signature “Cola Brown.”
Tohmas then proceeded to explain in technical terms how he was going to use a modern translucent and multi-reflective permanent color to cover my greys while simultaneously apply a gentle base breaker on my ends to remove my colored ends. Once my color was applied I relaxed in my chair as I watched the maestro work his magic on his other clients. It is no wonder why Tohmas’ clients love him because he gave the same attention to detail he afforded me to each of his clients.
Once the timer rang, his lovely assistant Hanan escorted me to the the reclining shampoo bowl to rinse my color and tousle dry my hair for Tohmas to examine. After he meticulously combed through the hair he excused himself while he whisked away to the color room to formulate a glaze to even the tones and refresh the shine of my hair. Once the glaze was applied I sat under a dryer while the gloss was processing for 10 minutes. Then a return to my favorite chair in the salon….the shampoo bowl! This was when Hanan worked her magical fingers shampooing, conditioning and massaging my scalp squeaky clean.
It was while sitting at the shampoo bowl that I noticed a really cool painting. I had to ask who painted it. Hanan told me it was painted by my colorist Tohmas. I fact, he painted all the artwork in the Valry Joseph Salon. To my amazement my colorist not only painted the heads of celebrities, but painted on canvas. Although my appointment was nearing completion with a blow dry, I insisted on the very modest Tohmas to share with me his passion for painting. I found his answer fascinating!
Tomas could not afford his senior year at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC and was forced to move to Wilmington, Delaware where he lived with a friend; all with the hope he could save enough money to return the following year and finish his senior year at SVA. It was during his effort to raise money quickly that he applied for a job as a shampoo boy at a local Wilmington salon. This was his introduction to the hair industry. Delaware is one of very few states where you can apprentice at a salon while you are in the process of getting your license. Most states will not allow a hairstylist to work in a salon without passing their state boards first. During his apprenticeship Tohmas would peruse magazines looking for inspiration, which is where he discovered the legendary colorist Beth Minardi. This is when he realized he could merge his artistic talents into a rewarding personal and professional life.
Once licensed, Tohmas set out to work with Beth Minardi in New York City. Over the next 14 years he excelled in personalized color delivering subtle or dramatic transformations, depending on his clients request. It was then a natural progression for Tohmas to become a lead colorist traveling extensively to teach professional hair color education and advanced techniques.
In addition, he has also been involved in the testing and development of color for brands such as Redken, Joico, Wella and L’Oreal, among others. Tohmas’ broad knowledge of many different color lines as well as an “insider’s” view of their strengths and weaknesses give him the ability to choose the best products for each individualized color situation.
You can see how both passion feed off each other. Painting gives him a forum to explore and express his personal creativity, and hair coloring gives him a forum to share his creativity by helping others feel better about themselves and explore their own beauty.
In 2011 Tohmas moved onto the next phase of his career joining the chic and trendy Valery Joseph salon. Here he applies his broad knowledge of color lines to recommend the best individualized color solutions. He also continues to nurture his passion for painting and maintains a studio space where he produces pieces of art for both private and corporate collections.
To learn the 5 Important Questions Thomas thinks you should ask you Hair Colorist Click Here
To have Tohmas Paint your Hair Click here
To have Tohmas Paint you a Canvas Click here