Natural Hair Heaven at Capella Salon with Shai Amiel aka The Curl Doctor
It’s two days before my Bachelorette Party. There’s a million things to do. I’m tag teaming running errands with my mom and my Maid of Honor simultaneously…when I get a phone call.
I’ve been wanting to get an appointment with Shai (pronounced ‘Shy’) for almost 2 years now. But he was 3,000 miles away and not cheap. FINALLY after waiting and waiting and thinking and mulling and researching and let’s be honest, low-key stalking this man’s haircuts, I FINALLY grew a pair of balls and made an appointment. Granted, the day and time I was scheduled, I wasn’t going to be anywhere NEAR the salon in Studio City, California. I asked for an appointment the week before but naturally, he was completely booked. I thought they were being nice when they asked me if I wanted to be on his waiting list and that they'd call me if there was a cancellation by chance.
They told me he had an opening for the following day at 11:15AM.
OMG!!!!! It was kismet!!! Except that I had a 10AM massage scheduled (with someone else who is ALSO tough to get into lol) and that the salon was a 4 hour drive away. Oh and there’s still SO much to do to prepare for my Bachelorette weekend!
My response: OH GOSH! THIS IS GREAT! Let me see if I can reschedule my life real quick. I will call you back in 5 minutes.
I did it. I gave my massage to my sweet papa. And I quite possibly got Vanessa to ride down to Los Angeles with me for the turnaround trip of the year. I called them back immediately.
Their response: Oooohff.. So sorry. The 11:15 appointment has been filled.
*Can we get a moment of silence please*
WHAT?! Y’all, when I tell you it had truly been 5 minutes. Man. My heart was broken. I was SO CLOSE. Salisha you idiot! Next time just say YES! And then figure the rest out later! The receptionist had mercy on my soul (kind of) when she said:
‘Well actually…he does happen to have a 9:30AM appointment tomorrow as well.’
I was already dead inside thinking I was going to have to hit the road at 7am for the previous appointment. Now it was looking like a 5am start. Was it worth it? Could I swing it? If I say yes and then change my mind, will I get my old slot back?? If I say Hold on and call back, will that option be gone too? UGH!!! I jumped off the cliff and remembered the lesson I had JUST learned and said, YES!!! I’LL TAKE IT!!!
It was the way I approached Vanessa with my tail tucked between my legs when I asked her if she’d still come with me, except now at 5am…knowing it was going to be a LONG day with plenty to do when we arrived back in town later that night.
I cannot believe she joined me. But she did. *cue music: 'Best Friend' by Doja Cat*
The next morning, we hit the road while it was still dark outside. We made the fastest pit stop right before the grapevine and kept it pushing. We prayed that parking would be Not Difficult because asking for parking to be easy in LA is asking for a LOT. Well we found the place. And parking WAS easy. There was a parking lot right behind the salon. We got there early and checked in.
While we were waiting outside, there he was: Shai Amiel, The Curl Doctor wearing not his signature hat but definitely still a statement hat. I got a little starry eyed but kept it cool, haha. I’ve been excited about hair dressers in the past just to sit in their chair and watch them chop all my hair off. THE WORST. So, Salish. Be optimistic, but grounded. My hair was clean, detangled, not wet. I did my part. I got there on time. He had arrived early. Everything was falling into place.
Before we began anything, we talked. He asked me about my hopes and dreams for my hair. We discussed goals and what I wanted out of that day. He approached hair cutting as an artistry but in addition to that, he took into major consideration what I wanted. I remember him saying, “Either way, you’re going to look great. I can achieve that by cutting off a lot or not a lot. It just depends on what you want.” And that is exactly what happened.
Watching him cut my curls ONE BY ONE felt LUXURIOUS. And all along the way he provided a lot of education. It didn’t take long before he asked me what I had in my hair, and I proudly said, “Shea Moisture!” and oh my gosh. He almost turned into a dad on me real quick with a metaphoric slap on the wrist, calmly saying, “We asked you not to use Shea Moisture during the prep call.” My eyes got big like I had just got caught drinking my sister’s Boost drinks thinking they were Slim Fast and wondering why I was getting so fat as a kid. I said, “ummm…hmmm… I don’t remember that.”
He said: Yes. They say it each time someone books a hair cut during the scheduling call. “Specifically Shea Moisture products. It coats the hair so heavily giving you instant gratification of thinking your hair is moisturized but after maybe the first time using it, nothing else can penetrate your hair cuticles leaving most of the product just sitting on top of your hair but not actually getting in. In addition to that, it’s really hard to get out. It takes a FEW washes to get it all out.
Y’all, I have used Shea Moisture for so long. It’s been a staple in my cabinet. And not once have I ever thought that the reason my hair is always so dry is because of THAT product. DAMN!
He was very clear on reminding me that I don’t have to buy ANY of the products he used on me that day, but to at least take a picture of them so I know what was indeed used.
My haircut was shaping up nicely and he was halfway done with my head when a cart rolled around and a nice lady asked me if I wanted anything. The cart was FULLY stocked and with snacks and drinks. She said: Would you like a regular Mimosa or a Capella Mimosa? (The Capella mimosa is pretty much just champagne with a drop of Orange Juice LOL.) I happily took a regular mimosa.
Shai was finishing up and looking in the mirror at myself with my fluffy hair, I loved what I saw. I felt so relieved. And so happy. And so…hmmm…I felt like I was home in a way. For the first time in my life, I got a haircut and somehow by some voodoo unknown to me, it felt like I had MORE hair. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! He was totally right when he said there was no need to cut it all off to make it look great. Plenty of my hair was on the floor but it’s the best shape I’ve ever gotten. Mission accomplished. And if the mimosa wasn’t already a nice touch, the actual haircut was officially worth every penny.
His assistant then took me to the washing bowl and clarified my hair, washed it, conditioned it, deep conditioned it, detangled it ever so gently, and went through ever single curl on my head and applied some great quality products. She explained every step along the way to me and encouraged me to take notes on my phone. Aside from getting the best haircut of my 3 decades on this planet and having a great salon experience, I got quality education on how to better care for my curls after our time together was over. We took plenty of photos and shared PLENTY OF TIPS. And what’s even better, I never felt like I was pressured to buy anything.
There was a moment that I appreciated when there was a cancellation after me when I was considering color. It says on Shai’s site that if it’s your first visit in the salon, he will not color it. He wants to make sure the hair is healthy enough before he does a bunch of extra stuff. I expressed interest and he told me what he could do for me that day, warned me that it would be an additional 2 hours and a whole lot more money. And I was totally stuck as to what I should do. I didn’t want Vanessa to have to keep waiting. And boy was I not prepared for that in my budget. But I really did want the service. He leveled with me and said: you don’t need it. Your hair looks great already. Come back in a year and we will do it then. I KNOW he would have made me look like a full blown movie star but I nodded my head, silently agreeing like OKAY. OKAY. Next time.
And I am very excited for next time.
Sometimes I’m nervous to tell people what I think about certain salons or experiences because I don’t want them to try it and then hate it. But y’all…
This one’s worth it.
It’s out in Los Angeles, California. This is NOT a sponsored post. My haircut was every penny of $350. And….yep. I happily bought some of the key products that they used on my hair.
In fact, if anyone who’s reading this ends up going and doesn’t love it, I would love to talk to you and we can duke it out like we are talking about nominees for the Tony Awards. Because, I feel so on FIRE right now! I had really paid so much attention to my hair during the pandemic because I had the luxury of Time. But then when I met Andrew, all the time I would have normally spent moisturizing my hair went to Netflix and Chillin, Cookin and Kissin. (I'm soooooyyyyy domestic now!)
LISTEN. They’ve given me all the tools I need to succeed. The education and a new hair process for me to follow. I’ve already gotten a chance to try what I’ve learned since going and MY HAIR FEELS DIFFERENT. It feels GOOD. It feels healthy. My Shea Moisture products, RIP, are now in the trash. They served me well while I was using them and, yes they did give me instant gratification. But I’m ready to actually have healthy moisturized hair and not thirsty curls.
The second you see me wearing my afro more and more, you’ll know…sis just leveled up.
Sidebar for closing: the girl who was in his chair after me was this tall, gorgeous, black model with hair like mine. When she first got to his chair, her hair looked like it needed some love. And boy did she get it. It was fascinating to see someone similar to me while NOT being me get the experience I just had and to watch it from a different angle. When she stood up, she had the most glorious hair shape, put her shoulders back, skipped the shampoo and walked out like she was about to walk the red carpet with the fluffliest most beautiful hair. I was already in love but I think it was this moment that I solidified in my mind: Yep. This will be where I come for annual haircuts. And I’m PRETTY sure each one of his associates are probably the bomb, but Shai is definitely the guy.
Stay tuned. I might be able to get him on my podcast, and if I do, it will be worth a listen.
OH and God bless Vanessa. We stopped for some bomb sushi on the way home, got back after 6pm and spent the next two hours prepping for the Bachelorette Party. And all was well in the world.