Quick Party Curls

I teamed up with ULTA Beauty to create a fast and easy hair tutorial for you!

What you’ll need: Hair elastic Heat protectant Curling wand Hair spray Hair accessory

STEP 1: Start with dry hair.

STEP 2: Gather ponytail at crown at head.

STEP 3: Spray heat protectant on hair.

STEP 4: Wrap one section of hair around the curling wand. Hold for a few seconds and let it fall.

STEP 5: Repeat with three more sections of hair (or more, if you have thicker hair).

STEP 6: Let curls set for 5 minutes.

STEP 7: Let hair down and finger comb curls.

STEP 8: Lock in curls with volumizing hair spray.


Product Spotlight : ORIBE Soft Dry Conditioner

Oribe Dry Conditioner Dry Shampoo? Been there, need that. But Dry Conditioner? That was new news to me!

Allow me to introduce you to my new BFF, Oribe Dry Conditioner. At first thought, it's gimmicky and overpriced, but spray this velvet onto your locks and you'll begin buying this in bulk. This is my hands down favorite product for my dry blonde ends, and a great alternative to greasy Moroccan Oil, (which I'm SO over).

This ultrafine mist applied from midshaft to ends of hair, will leave you smelling delicious and feeling insanely soft. I've been walking around creepily petting my own hair.

Treat yourself! Or gift a gal pal a bottle for Christmas! (Available at Thomas West Salon, and HERE.)


Update & Giveaway!

Beauty Box Giveaway Well to say it's been a while since my last blog post would be stating the obvious. I miss you guys!!

June and July kicked my butt! I had six weddings in June alone, and worked overtime in the salon, traveled to see Sammy, and the blog just naturally fell to the back burner.

As I gear up for August, I'm implementing healthy changes. I'm excited to say that I will no longer be working more than 40 hours in the salon. Between weddings and the salon, I have been logging in 60-80 hours a week, and though I LOVE my job, with it comes physical stress. That physical stress has left me waking up in tears from joint pain, and with little to no time left over to fit in exercise.

It's time to make myself a priority. I don't want to get burnt out, I want to work as long as it makes me happy, and I doubt that time will ever run out, IF I take care of myself.

One of the blogging perks, that hasn't slowed down even though I haven't been posting, is smell-good-snail-mail! I am blown away by the generosity of the beauty industry! I've finally taken the time to try out a bajillion products, and would love to share what I think of them with you! But first, I'd love to give you some to try yourself!

I'm psyched for this Beauty Box Giveaway! In it one lucky lady will receive:

  • Color WOW Shampoo and Conditioner (HOW have I never tried these products before. Just wait 'til I share they're Root Cover Up with you!)
  • Real Chemistry Luminous 3 Minute Peel AND Environmental Rescue Mask (The best face mask I've ever used. Period.)
  • Muk Argan Oil Shine Spray (Fancy!)
  • Murad Refreshing Cleanser (I'm jealous of whoever wins this.)
  • Soften Her Exfoliating Pads (Ingrown hair - beware. These lady exfoliant pads are magic.)
  • Aveda Energizing Body Cleanser and Volumizing Tonic (Lovely little travel buddies.)
  • Crest 3D Whitening Mouthwash (Fresh breath AND whitening. Double. Whammy.)

Stay tuned for my full reviews and tutorials coming soon!

You have until Friday at 9am to enter the giveaway! To win, you must leave a comment below with your Instagram handle, and follow @YourStylistAJ on Instagram. The winner of this $250 value Beauty Box will be announced and shipped on Friday!


Dirty Girl.

Your Stylist AJ I don't wash my hair. Ok, I do but I mean, it needs to be a special occasion.

Once or twice a week is all I have the patience for. I love doing hair, but is there a girl out there who enjoys roundbrushing their own hair? If that girl is out there please come forward so we can give you a round of applause.

I swear by dry shampoos, texturizing sprays and recycling my curls.

Typically my weekly hair schedule looks a little like this:

Day 1- Shampoo, blast dry, curl

Day 2- Add dry shampoo, brush through, peace out

Day 3- Potentially add more dry shampoo, recycle the Day 1 curls into a cute pony

Day 4- Add more dry shampoo, brush through, recycle hair into an updo

Day 5- Shampoo day! OR.... if it's an early morning or I'm feeling lazy, another updo, or a fun hat with a side fishtail braid!

Updos work best on dirty hair. A braid crown doesn't even really look good to me unless it's three days deep in dirt.  Always dirty and always purrty.

I challenge you to skip an extra shampoo day this week! Hit snooze sister ; )


Crest 3D Whitestrips Review

Your Stylist AJ How did it take me this long to whiten my teeth!?

If you follow along on Instagram, you saw this sweet gift from Crest a couple weeks ago. I was so excited to play with my new toys, and after only three days, I feel whiter and brighter! I seriously can't imagine how fresh my teeth will look after a couple more weeks!

Forget spending hundreds to bleach your teeth through your dentist! These new Professional Effects strips were nothing like I remember from years ago because they DON'T MOVE a muscle when they're on. I had an entire conference call with these babies in, and they didn't shift or get ooey gooey. Yes please.

PS. This cute tank is available here. PSS. Get your whitestrips here.

Products were gifted by Crest, but the opinions here are always my own : )


Guess what?! I'm a finalist in Allure's Beauty Blogger Awards!

This year, Allure chose their top 10 picks to compete as finalists in the competition. When I got the call that I was one of them, I just about passed out. I stopped walking, sat straight down on the sidewalk, and tried to act normal. But this isn't normal, this is HUGE.

All my life, I've set large goals, but sometimes, I let the largest ones pass out of fear. Fear is a powerful feeling, and one of my personal goals for 2014, was to ignore fear, and only follow the words "I AM" with words of optimism and strength. I would love to win this competition, but I mean it when I say I already feel like I've won. Challenging myself to even apply for a spot, and putting myself in the vulnerable position of letting America vote either for or against me, is such personal progress. We all have insecurities, and some of mine had to be broken down in order to make this happen. I am so proud of myself for that, and at the very least, I will take that away from this experience.

Beginning this Monday, April 14th, we finalists will compete in up to five challenges, and YOUR votes can keep me in it to win it! And get this- you can win incredible prizes just for voting. Not a bad deal right?

I'll keep you posted each week as the new challenges are released! I'm excited to share my love of the beauty industry and hope you guys enjoy what I've been working on!

Thank you so much to Allure for this opportunity! I'm also just beaming with gratitude, as the close friends and family in my life have shown an incredible amount of support.

See you at the first Challenge on Monday! Until then, you can see my intro video and interview HERE!


Easy Fancy Bun Tutorial

Emilia Jane Photography
Emilia Jane Photography

Hi lovlies! Welcome back to another tutorial! This Fancy Bun is SO easy, but looks just a little extra special than your typical bun. Check it out!

To get the look at home:

1-2. Leaving the "sides" out from the ears forward, gather the back section and place into a low ponytail.

3. Twist the pony and wind it around the base of the elastic.

4. Secure with hair pins.

5. Take the first side section and twist away from the face.

6. Place the twisted section above the bun, and loosely wrap what's left over around the bun, securing with a bobby pin.

7. Repeat on the other side.

8. Rock your Fancy Bun and put it on Instagram using the hashtag #YSAJtutorial


Thank you to Emilia Jane Photography for capturing this look for us!

Dearest Thomas West Salon clients and friends!

Emilia Jane Photography

I am continuously blown away by your loyalty and generosity! Some of you have been my client for over four years and I have loved getting to know you and hearing about your life!

As you’ve likely noticed, my books have gotten increasingly busier. I often have a four week waiting list. Though I do my best to accommodate everyone, sometimes even working 12-14 hour days I can’t get everyone in. Some say this is a good problem to have, but I’m always concerned with keeping you happy, and apologize for any inconveniences regarding my schedule.

Typically stylists increase their prices somewhat regularly. As their business grows, so does their price point. I’ve worked hard at Thomas West Salon for over four years, and never increased my prices. After a recent meeting with Tom, we have decided to increase my prices.

I hope you understand, and continue to see me! This increase was a difficult and big decision, but in my industry, it’s like getting a raise, and I hope you feel I deserve it!

As of April 1, 2014 my prices will be as follows:

Women’s Haircut $80

Men’s Haircut $50 (no increase)

Blow Dry $50 (no increase)

Color/Base Bump $80

Partial Foil $150

Full Foil $200

Thank you again for being so amazing! I hope to see you soon!


Photo by Emilia Jane Photography

THAT moment.

Andrew&Rachel_1076 See that moment? You can even feel it can't you? THAT'S the moment I live for. The very second my bride sees her hair on the most important day of her life, and loves it.

Today I am feeling extremely grateful for the love I'm continuously surrounded by. Thank you to all of my brides, for making me the luckiest girl in the world. You are all so stinkin' special to me.

I love you. AJ

Photo of the lovely Rachel captured by Stoffer Photography

Honeybuns Hair Tutorial


HI honeybuns! Today I’m psyched to deliver a brand new, and of course easy peasy, hair tutorial. Thank you to my beautiful little sister for helping me create this tutorial! She’s even cuter from the front!

1-3. Begin by taking a circular section from the crown, and clipping it out of the way.

4. Divide the remaining hair into three sections.

5-6. Begin with the back center section and twist the hair into a bun. Secure with bobby pins.

7-8. Continue by twisting the side sections away from the face and into little buns, one at a time. Secure with bobby pins.

9. Unclip the section from the crown and divide it into two sections. Now, cross those two sections, one over the other.

10. Spin each of the sections away from each other and into more little buns. Secure the two new buns with bobby pins.

Try it. Nail it… and then change it! Vary how many buns you use, where you pin them, how much volume you want, etc. This style looks gorgeous, but as you can see can be done if just a few short steps. We photographed the whole thing in under five minutes!

This is also a great option for you short hair ladies. Itty bitty buns are cute too ya know.

YSAJ hair tutorials 5 buns-36
YSAJ hair tutorials 5 buns-36

I’d love to see your honeybuns! Tag your looks on insta using #YSAJtutorial : ) It’s been so fun to see you all master the Messy Side Bun tutorial this week, thank you for sharing!


Thank you Emilia Jane Photography for your time and talent!

Adios February

Sometimes life runs according to plan, and sometimes is doesn't at all. My February was full of surprises. FEB RECAP:

Travel hair I drove down to Florida with Sammy for Spring Training. Hard to believe it's Spring Training when Chicago is getting lambasted with snow right now.

Union Hotel

We stopped in Nashville along the way for a night of live music and authentic BBQ. We stayed at the Union Hotel which I HIGHLY recommend.


Florida was magic. I ate at my same favorite restaurant like four times in a matter of days.


I was back in Chicago for less than a week, but worked two full work weeks in that time. Then, it was off to Vegas for the Project & Magic apparel shows for Bonnie & Clyde. We wrote some fresh new lines, attended seminars, and even had a second to dip our toes in the pool. All good "I miss Sammy" distractions.


While I was out west Kina took some photos of me in the desert! We had too much fun hiking in heels and singing Sara Bareilles as the sun set. Love that girl.


As soon as I got back I spent two days revving up the courage to apply for the Allure Magazine Beauty Blogger competition. Part of the submission asks for a video, so I finally worked up the courage to post a video tutorial after two years of terrifying anticipation.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.51.13 AM

The NEXT day I got a call from Goody. They had just seen my video and were interested in shooting tutorials with me in NYC for the weekend. So I refilled my suitcase for the third time in three weeks and headed to the airport with my gorgeous and talented friend Lindsey for the weekend. Friday was a long day of consulting and test shooting, and then yesterday during the awards we recreated looks we saw the celebs rocking and released them right away. You can view them all HERE.


As soon as I was done, I learned my flight for this morning was actually cancelled. I've spent a combined four hours on hold and still won't be getting into Chicago before 9pm. So, I'll make the best of it with amazing coffee and even more amazing spoons. (Photo by #EATPRAYPHOTO)


Ask and you shall receive.

Put yourself out there, you have nothing to lose. Really.

Friendship is weird. In a good way.

NYC has the best latte I've ever had. If you visit check out Happy Bones.

The camera adds ten pounds but I clearly have more than that to lose. Back on the paleo grind effective immediately, but more importantly, excited to get serious about working out. I'm craving that healthy routine and feeling really good and light. Who wants to go to yoga and Flywheel with me this week?

I appreciate Chicago.

My family is pretty awesome. They acted like I was actually a celebrity instead of just mimicking celeb hair.

I'm continuously blown away by Sammy. I have learned so much about life and hard work from that man. So proud of him.

How was your February? Cheers to March!


Messy Side Updo Tutorial

If you know me, there's no doubt that I have no problem striking up convo with a stranger or being extremely outgoing. Heck! I talk to fresh faces on a 45 minute rotation at the salon every day.

So why in the world has it taken me two years to make a video hair tutorial?


Now that I've crossed making my first vid off my career bucket list, I'm psyched to deliver a million more. I'm JUST getting started. I learned so much through this process: film during natural light- duh, don't say "like", slowww down and practice prior. But I can only get better from here, so get excited.

I hope you learned a new fun and super simple style to incorporate in your hair routine. Let me know know what you think!

What tutorials would you like to see next?



Hair Tutorial // Half Up Headband

Bobby pins aren't for everyone, so grab the nearest elastic headband and you can have a gorgeous half up style in seconds! I recently posted this pic on instagram and you asked for a tutorial. Get ready, it's SO easy.

Your Stylist AJ Hair Tutorial

1. Begin by placing an elastic headband over your head. Play around to find your comfy spot! The gold headband I used is from Urban Outfitters, but I've done this look with an inside out Under Armour workout headband and it looked dressy too!

2. Take a section of hair from the right side of your head just above your ear and wrap towards the left.

3. Tuck the section into the headband from top to bottom. No pins required!

4-5. Repeat on the left.

6. Rock your look and soak up the zillion compliments you'll get all day!

Your Stylist AJ Hair Tutorial

Feel free to leave questions or comments below!


Top is from Anthropologie

Thank you to the amazzzzing Emilia Jane for the photography!

Wavy Hair Tutorial

Welcome to YSAJ 2014! Get ready for a heck of a lot more tutorials! Girls with straight hair often want curly hair, and girls with curly hair often want straight hair, but where does that leave girls with wavy hair? Wavy hair is tough, some days it air dries like a Victoria's Secret model, and some days it just looks homeless.

Enter: Your Stylist AJ! When Chicago wedding and lifestyle photographer, Christy Tyler, posted on Instagram about discovering she had some natural wave/curl but didn't know how to style it, I invited her to come into Thomas West Salon. I taught Christy how to easily embrace her natural texture and rock it!

You will need:

  • a Wet Brush or comb
  • curl enhancing products // we used Aveda Be Curly (even Chloe pup digs it!) and Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full Form Mousse (both available at Thomas West Salon)
  • curling iron or wand (optional)

products used


Lets get started! (In my best aerobics instructor voice!)

1. Shampoo, Condition from ponytail down, and towel dry hair. Comb through, and towel dry again. If too much water is still in the hair, it will actually create a barrier for the product. Add your curl enhancing product to your palms, and rake fingers and hands through your hair, beginning at the ends, and using what's "left over" on your roots. curls step 1 2. Comb large sections of hair up at a 90 degree angle, and begin twisting away from the face. Twisting with the 90 degree angle ensures you get plenty of volume. Work your way back section by section until all hair is twisted. curls pic 2 twistIt should look a little like this!


3. I suggest doing steps 1 and 2 at night, and sleeping with your damp twisties either down or in a messy bun, from there you can wake up and shake it out! How cute is Christy!? If you prefer to shower in the morning, I suggest air drying.

shake it out pic 4 4. Most girls with natural texture have the most wave in the ends, I recommend touching up just a few pieces on top for added polish and volume. You can do this using a regular curling iron, curling wand, or by curling with your flat iron. (BONUS TIP: You can use your curling iron like a wand by not opening the clamp!) wand pic six5. Add a finishing product and work through to add volume and extra dimension. Hair spray is great here, but I like breaking the rules and using mousse sometimes! mouse pic 6It's that easy! If you sleep with your wet twisties, all you have to do is wake up to shake and add a lil product! Plus skipping the step of blow drying gives your hair a break from high heat!

Have fun! XO AJ

Photos by Christy Tyler Photography 


Moroccan Oil Scalp Treatments

M.O. Treatments  

The shift in the weather's temperature and moisture leaves our skin, and more specifically our scalps, dry. A dry scalp can be uncomfortable and itchy, not to mention embarassing when you can see it!

It seems like all my clients have been asking for a dry scalp solution lately. Having a dry scalp does NOT mean you have dandruff. It doesn't mean you should be using a dandruff shampoo either. BUT, it does mean you're the perfect candidate for an in-salon scalp treatment.

The entire treatment takes 10 minutes, and can be added on to your haircut/ color services anytime. I begin by applying the magic potion to your scalp in fine sections. Once your scalp is saturated with the good smelling, nourishing treatment, I give you a TEN MINUTE SCALP MASSAGE. If you ask me, that's $40 well spent.

Here's the thing you guys, this treatment WORKS. Prior to using it myself, I never found a solution for my wintery dry scalp. If you have any questions or are interested in making an appointment, you can always find me at!




As easy as 1, 2, 3! (really!)

You just got off work after a long day...You hired a babysitter.... You're squeezing in "you time" on your lunch break... You have a blind date tonight... Your rehearsal dinner is tonight...

... and I spin you around in the chair for to you see the UHmazing full voluminous sexy blowout you have. And of course you say, "Uhg why can't I get it to look like this!"

You can.

The trick to a beautiful blowdry isn't my fancy brush, dryer, or biceps, it's the appropriate prep, foundation and finishing products.

blowout1. PREP. Using a prep product like Bumble & Bumble's Tonic on clean wet hair is often a skipped step. Tonic equalizes the porosity from root to end ensuring the foundation product is evenly distributed, your hair is less tangly, and it's also great for your scalp. Other great prep products include: Moroccan Oil, Aveda Damage Control or Pureology Miracle Filler. (This all depends on hair type, please let me know if you're in search of the perfect prep product for you!)

2. FOUNDATION. Once you've rough dried your hair about 80% of the way, (yes, almost all the way!), evenly and thoroughly apply your foundation product from root to end, and not just on the top section missy! I love the Aveda Volumizing Tonic for medium hold, workable movement. Once applied, section and roundbrush. Other great foundation products include Bumble & Bumble Thickening Hairspray, Pureology or Kerastase Mousse, or Aveda Phomollient.

3. FINISHING. This is the fun part. Flip your head upside down, or look up toward the ceiling once your round brush is complete. Apply a finishing product, most commonly hairspray, and let dry before touching. Other options include Bumble & Bumble Grooming Creme, or Aveda Defining Whip, but I'm a sucker for a great long lasting, smell good hairspray!

Go play!



Obsession Confession

revlon I've never been a big drugstore beauty girl, but Revlon has undoubtably won me over. I'll be a consumer for life.

For about two years now, I've been using Revlon lip color over all my previous favorites. I once loved the shades that MAC offers, but they make my lips dry, which makes the color look less smooth by the end of the day. I love the NARS and Tarte lip crayons, but they don't allow enough control during application for me. Most lip gloss colors I've ever swooned over, are sticky and goopy.

Revlon lip butter "lipstick" is smooooooth and feels luxurious. The lip glosses feel even better. The liners last and glide.

My absolute favorite gloss, that I wear nonstop, is Revlon Colorburst, "Crystal Lilac". It looks amazing on all skin tones, and is just a touch pinkier than your favorite nude.


Colorgloss: Sunbaked//Colorgloss: Crystal Lilac//Colorgloss: Sunset Peach//Lip Butter: Raspberry Pie



GP For months I’ve been working as the Director of Style for goldplaited, and I’m finally able to tell you all about it! Goldplaited is the marriage between a blow dry bar and makeup studio. Umm… perfection? That’s what I thought too when the LA sisters behind the idea asked me to join them in bringing it to life right here in Chicago!

I have helped to create the service menu, style for photoshoots, select premium product lines, and now, I’m ready to help audition and train Chicago talent to create the best team around.

We’re looking for passionate, fun, talented hair and makeup talent to launch the flagship location: 2803 N. Sheffield Ave. (Sheffield & Diversey)

If you’re interested, please send your resume and cover letter to soon, as auditions begin next week!


Now Hiring: Elle Woods


Your Stylist AJ is growing faster than I anticipated, and I’m ready to hire an intern!

I’m looking to hire a local Chicagoan to potentially become a permanent assistant to work alongside me.

Are you…

  • Organized?
  • Self motivated?
  • Interested in photography?
  • Down to let me play with your hair?
  • Lover of beauty and fashion?

If you’re all of the above, I can’t WAIT to meet you!

You’ll be assisting me with everyday tasks for Your Stylist AJ, helping me execute some amazing ideas, brainstorming with me to create new ones, shipping care packages to brides and giveaway winners, while maintaining office organization. Bonus points for Elle Woods tendencies. (I'm only half kidding.)

YSAJ may be a small business, but it’s surely a sparkly one, with BIG things on the horizon.

I believe in optimism, music, post-it notes and hairspray. I’d LOVE to find someone who believes in the same, who can add a little extra energy around here.

If you’re interested, please email your resume to!



Growing Pains

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 9.42.30 PM Many of my clients have been with me for years, a handful fly in from other time zones, or drive from two states away. Most of my clients have become my closest friends. I've been with a few from their first date to their wedding day. I've been trusted to listen to their most personal stories, and some of them have listened to mine.

I've been struggling with the best problem an independent gal can have, being too busy. But while this is a "good problem" to have, it's still an issue.

When I started at Thomas West Salon, I was working six days a week, and passing out free haircut cards to get busy. Fast forward almost four years, and I'm down to three days a week, while owning a bridal business, maintaining a pulse on this blog, and fulfilling my role in our family business. It's a lot, and I LOVE the juggling act, but I also understand how that affects my salon clients.

Thank you so so much to my loyal regular clients who have stuck by me even though my schedule is harder to get into. I love and appreciate every single one of our visits together! I am not naive to the fact that it was once easy to get in with me the same day, and now you're asking to be "squeezed in" sometime in the next two weeks. Thank you to those who are understanding, and proud of me.

To those who are frustrated with my schedule and not being able to get in right away, please remember that I am a person. A super hard working girl who does what I do because I adore it. If you can't get in with me TODAY, please recognize that as a good thing. If I was still that available after years of building a clientele, it would speak volumes of my talent. I do the best I can to accommodate everyone, and will continue to come in early and stay late when necessary.

Thank you x10


photo by Emilia Jane