The CODE to Fashion Forward Hair

As a blonde, finding a good hair colorist that will not leave you with scarecrow hair in both color and texture can be quite the challenge. I was in need of a quick root fix and asked a friend for a local hair salon that she would recommend. I had a photo shoot that weekend and needed to put my best foot forward, well in this case hair.

My girlfriend suggested CODE, a full-service boutique Aveda salon in SOMA. Her and I both happen to know Marianne Donovan, who basically runs the show there as head of their Reservations and Guest Relations. She suggested I contact Marianne to see if I could get in on quick notice. Between my identity with BayFashion, our former acquaintance and a cancellation I was able to get the perfect trifecta, last booking of the day with John Skinner their Master Colorist. It was meant to be.

I walked up a rustic wooden staircase into a large sunny loft composed of brick, tall ceilings, black leather furniture, large windows that looked out onto 4th street in SOMA and Marianne greeting me with her warm smile. I had arrived at CODE salon. Soon enough I was whisked away by John, my hair magician for the evening.

After he introduced himself, John gave me the official salon tour. “To the right of me is what we call our stage”, he said while pointing to a large elevated open area where several stylist station were set. There is not one area or station where artists are assigned and all the stations are actually on wheels. This allows redesign and for new and experienced artists to engage and learn from each other; a true team environment. Next I was shown the waiting area where clients chatted and flipped through magazines on plush leather couches and chairs. Then I was directed toward the “coloring station”, where John creates his mastery, or as he put it, “where the magic happens”. Followed by the wash station where rather than there be chairs connected to washbowls, there were long angled leather plank beds. This detail makes the rinsing more of a spa like experience for the guest and in fact easier for stylist to wash their clients. Last stop was John’s current station where I was given lemon water and a stack of fashion zines, including Vogue Italia.

I explained to John exactly what I was looking for in terms of color, a cold blonde. I knew I was in good hands; he being the Master Colorist. He was trained by Toni & Guy, which is one of the best in the industry. He also had worked runways in NYC and LA Fashion Week for Aveda. I loved his fashion forward passion and how it influenced his work. He told me that he was inspired by haute couture and focuses on taking those sophisticated, beautiful and artistic looks and delivering them to his clients through his coloring techniques.

Although I was at CODE for a couple hours the time flew by between John’s entertaining stories suggestion on where in SF to catch the best drag show (something I’ve always wanted to do), his complimentary shoulder massage while my hair sat in foils, learning about the building’s cool history (it used to be a photography studio) and his overall attentiveness and ability to create a wonderful experience. And that is exactly what is should be; an experience rather than a chore to get your hair done.

After all was said and done I walked out of CODE with PERFECT hair the first time, mind you, not the second or third, which is more typical as a new client. Their prices are not cheap but completely worth missing a mall trip or two. The salon is also not limited to hair services; they also offer face and body services. Involvement with the community is also important for them. They host artist spotlight nights where guests come to enjoy local painters, musicians, photographers, and other talent.

CODE is a salon that stands alone form the rest. There blurb says it best: “What’s most unique about a person isn’t always obvious. The extraordinary can be hidden from view. At CODE salon, we’re dedicated to revealing what’s special about you to the world. Join us at CODE, where beauty is self-defined”