thomas west salon

Bridal Balayage


Even if you have virgin hair, you're no foreigner to the trending word, Balayage.

Balayage is a freehand painting technique that delivers the most natural hair color. A sunkissed glow you haven't seen since the summer after fifth grade. It's super low maintenance, and can be as subtle or as noticeable as you prefer. 

We've all had an awful color service at some point, and too often it freaks girls out from ever getting color again. So many brunettes tried highlights in high school or college and ended up looking like a German Shepherd with high contrast muddy streaks, damaged ends, and a harsh line of outgrowth six weeks later. If you're that girl, I'm begging you to hear me out. 

Bride or not, dimensional color is more beautiful than non-dimensional color. Without dimension, there's nothing to separate color from looking like it came straight out of a box from the drugstore. But if you are a bride, it's that much more important. 

I've never had a bride pull up their Pinterest board, point at a photo of non-dimensional color and say, "That's what I want!" It will never happen. We're drawn to styles that have sun kissed highlights, no matter how subtle, otherwise, the detail in the style gets lost forever. Especially in photos. 

This type of detail is so hard to explain to brides or bridesmaids when they're in my chair, so with the help of Emilia and Karen, I bring you, the power of dimensional hair color! 

Emilia's hair color is on the left. It's lovely, exotic and dark, shiny and healthy! I do her color myself, so the last thing I want to do is dog it, BUT, it's the perfect example of hair that's begging for depth. Her bun is lost on the back of her head! (After we shot these photos, she booked an appointment for balayage.) 

Karen's hair was medium brown and virgin before her October 2014 wedding, and I added a soft childlike dimension. Since then she's decided to amp it up even further, and this is her post wedding color with a bit more kick to it. You can undoubtably see the depth of the bun along with the twist and texture, because of the highlights. 

I'm on the right, and obviously there's a whole lotta dimension goin on. Of course you do not need to be blonde for the details of your style to shine through. That said, the more dimension in your color, the more detail in your style. 

If you have any questions on balayage or bridal styles, please hit me up here or leave a comment below! 


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

Nurturing YSAJ

enjoy When I started working at Thomas West Salon three and a half years ago, I was there six days a week. Two years ago I went down to 5 days a week. Now... I'm going down to four.

When I started Your Stylist AJ a year and a half ago, I was kind of setting goals as they happened, and it wasn't until this winter that I really started making YSAJ such a large focus. I LOVE working in the salon, and I plan on working in the salon forever, but going down to part time has been the goal for a while now.

I'm dropping Tuesdays at Thomas West, leaving me in the salon Wednesday through Friday, and the Saturday's that I don't have weddings booked. This will still be a full time schedule, and I will absolutely be able to get everyone in! I'll still be at Thomas West almost 40 hours a week.

Your Stylist AJ is a two part business, the blog, and the bridal. I need the extra day to really nurture YSAJ and give my brides the attention they deserve, while delivering amazing blog posts five days a week. This new schedule means that I'm on the right track, change is happening, and my business is growing!

I'm so excited for this shift! Thank you to all of my loyal clients, (most of you have become friends), for being such a huge part of my life.

Love, AJ

P.S. Thank you for all of the emails and texts regarding my last post. I'm so humbled by the love I received. You guys are amazing.

original photo taken by Joseph Mark 



If Chris Angel had invented a brush, it'd be this. YOU GUYS, this brush is seriously incredible.

The Wet Brush can glide through even the tangliest, (yeah tangliest is a word), of hair. If you have fine hair, damaged hair, lots of hair... this is your new best friend. I know a lot of you are product junkies and love adding tools to your toolbox... I, am not.

Everyone in the salon was buzzing about this "Wet Brush" and I wanted nothing to do with such a gimmicky tool with a less than creative name. But after about two weeks of hearing about it, I tried it.

First I tried it on my client at Thomas West Salon, and we were both "wtf"ing. She purchased it on the spot. Fast forward to the next morning, I tried it on myself. I have extensions and my hair isn't unmanageable, but I spend a few minutes combing through it. THIS TOOK SECONDS. So I, like my client, purchased it.

I'm telling you guys, it works and it's cheap. Also great for kids with tender little noggins.



There’s something about the word change that ignites me all over. The way it begins and ends with this strength against your tongue as you say it. Cchhaannggee.

Change is a neat thing, because we all have our own relationship with it. Some people love change- encourage it! Others fear change- get nervous about it.

Personally, I think change is healthy and empowering. (So much that I have it tattooed on my body.) For me it brings newness, which I associate with feeling fresh and rebooted!

This time of year everyone feels a little blah. The holidays are long gone, but Spring is nowhere to be found, in the midwest our skin+hair=DRY. We’re searching all depths for some sort of pick-me-up.

Maybe that’s why all my clients are eager to chop their locks. Whatever the reason, for the first time in my 7 years doing this, it seems like EVERYONE is looking to go short. Typically, I’m ultra conservative with length, and ask a zillion questions before proceeding… “How long have you been thinking about this?” “Did you guys just break up?” etc… but lately, everyone who wants this refreshment has brought in a printed photo or pulled up their Pinterest, eager to invite the newness. In that case, say no more… lets do it!

If you’re looking for a fresh start, I say go for it! What’s really stopping you? Just let go, it’s liberating!

Your Stylist, AJ

(sorry sis! couldn’t resist using these photos!)