Cheeky Chicago May 23rd, 2011

Maxine Salon's John Blue and Reese Travis featured in Cheeky Chicago May 23rd, 2011Cheeky Chicago

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

No splitting Hairs Here

by erica bethe levin

I have two words for you: Reese and Blue. Learn these names now because you will want to use them when booking a hair appointment at the rockin’ Gold Coast salon, Maxine, appropriately named after the affable and equally adorable owner….Maxine Kroll.


Reese and Blue, Blue and Reese – they sound like the headliners of tomorrow’s hot new superhero movie. And you might as well start referring to them as such because these two pros are superheroes of the follicle variety.

I have been a devout and loyal follower of the religion that has been my hairdresser for the past seven years. When Jessica and I heard of this “new” salon (although it’s not so new having been on the block for 25 years), I respectfully declined trying it as I could never cheat on my longtime-stylist-colorist-turned-friend-and-cocktailing-buddy. But when I saw Jessica’s Balayage coloring and ridiculous blow out the next day, I (guiltily/excitedly/immediately) booked an appointment.

I’m sort of a creature of habit, so it never crossed my mind that the foils I’ve been using to highlight my hair for so long that I can’t remember my natural color were outdated. I’d heard of this Balayage trend for a while, but never knew anyone who actually practiced the celeb-loving trend. After seeing Jessica’s hair, though, I was willing to seek out the magic. I walked into Maxine (a hip, sleek, Kerastase salon) overly prepared for my big summer lighten-up with magazine cutouts of a red-headed Miley Cyrus and random Nordstrom Winter Catalogue model (also sporting the strawberry hue). Although Blue (a colorist whose name ironically mirrors his career) may have cringed at the Miley photo (for obvious reasons), he was excited for the big transformation, and extremely honest about the fact that it might not get as light as I want…. this time.

Quick tutorial: Balayage is used for dimensional color, not obvious lightening. There is no demarcation pattern at the scalp like you get from foil – in fact, placement begins about an inch from new growth. And each placement is handpicked and painted to look natural, mirroring the layers and dimensions one would get from the sun.

Okay, I feel better now…

After Blue strategically hand painted each of my strands, stripped away some of the darker brunette, ran some all over color through my locks and dyed my eyebrows (well, I never!), my color was exactly what I wanted! Have you ever been able to say that?!?! Hello, redheaded Erica!
Cheeky's Erica Bethe Levin at Maxine

Erica as a redhead: do they have more fun?

But one could not fully appreciate the robustness of my new hue makeover without the styling expertise of Reese (I love rhyming without meaning to). Not all haircuts or styles are created equally. And Reese learned that as a kid growing up in Iowa (where he was at a severe loss for hair models) – his practice came in the form of braiding, prodding and styling manes and tails. It paid off because that boy is good with a scissor and maybe even better with the iron. As said creature of habit, I know how to flat iron my hair or use a curling iron – I don’t know how to blow dry, use hot rollers or give my hair sexy waves. But now thanks to Reese… I do! This trendsetter taught me a trick I would have never read in Cosmo: buy a curling iron without the barrel; or for the economistas out there, remove it from the one you already have. Use a glove and wrap your hair around the iron for a cool, beachy, sexy, bedhead, tousled look. Believe me, it works.

When I tell you I walked out of Maxine feeling better about my hair than I ever have, I am not exaggerating one small, tiny iota. Although it may be argued that the 4 ½ hours it took for my total follicle transformation might have been better spent, say, working… or exercising… or calling my mom on the phone, I beg to differ. I walked out feeling like a million bucks thanks to Blue and his Bayalage treatment, Reese and his priceless styling advice and both for their knack for conversing (I think Blue could charge a therapist fee, so hold off on paying your energists, healers or psychics).

As a general Cheeky rule, we rarely write about the same place, trend, restaurant, theatre, boutique, nail polish shade or spa twice ever, let alone twice in one month. What does that say about Maxine and her boys… my stylin’, colorin’, Kerastase-usin’, make-me-feel-so-good superheroes?

712 N. Rush St, Chicago



To read more about Erica Bethe Levin and why she is so Cheeky, please click here.