- Edition 7, Chapter 11 - 


by Alexander Brebner



Leigh Lotocki is a dancer, and moved to New York about a year ago from northern Virginia to focus on performance and becoming more involved with the city’s sizable dance community. She studied ballet from ages four to eighteen and, “Definitely started out as a bunhead, wrenching my hair back and wearing nets, and keeping it all in, down, tame, and wrapped up,” she recalls.

But enrolling in a contemporary modern dance program in college was, “An abrupt change of gears, where you are rewarded for celebrating your individuality – a huge 180,” Leigh says. Where ballet is more about supporting an ancient form of dance and fulfilling a vision, “Contemporary choreographers are much more interested in what the dancer is going to bring to the work.” And hair is a part of that. “It can definitely influence movement just like a costume does; it’s a choice about how a dancer’s look is going to influence how you feel about their character or what they’re trying to get across,” she explains. “It is fun to have the option to work with hair, movement-wise.”

Leigh’s red curls are inherited from her mother who, “Always used to iron it when she was my age,” Leigh says. “It really wasn’t cool back then to have curly hair. But having red hair was more her story and the thing that just drove her crazy. My grandma, her mom, was a hair stylist, and my mom would go into her salon and beg her to dye her hair because she got made fun of so much.” But Leigh’s issue growing up had more to do with curls than color, saying, “With red hair, you get teased, but it’s not as detrimental as the curly jokes. People notice you and that’s just something you don’t want when you’re young. I straightened my hair every day from about fourth grade through high school.”

Leigh first stopped straightening when a boy named Basil, her high school crush said, “Your hair is curly? You should let it do its thing and go natural.” Her mother worried that she had straightened the curl right out of it, and started setting it, “With these little foam curlers that you slept on with your hair wet at night.” She complains that, “No one really teaches you how to go natural or how to use products when you’re young. They just don’t.”

Today, Leigh’s perspective has changed entirely, and says, “Now if I straighten my hair I feel like a weird and different person. It changes the look of my face; my skin tone looks strange, and it’s just not something that I like to do anymore.” She wore her hair straight to work one day, “And this guy was like, ‘Wow, your hair is so different.’ He said I seemed a lot more mature. I’ve always had kind of a Shirley Temple vibe, and the feedback that I’ve gotten is that I look younger. But I was peeved. Really? You’re a more mature person because all the hairs on your head are organized?”

“No one really teaches you how to go natural or how to use products when you’re young. They just don’t.”

Leigh’s cut of choice is, “Kind of a shag cut, which isn’t that popular or coveted, but I want to have bangs and hair all around my face all the time,” she says. “Shorter or medium length hair feels much better; I used to think that I needed to have a lot of hair to feel like I had a lot of hair, but then I realized that I just needed it in different places and not have the longest hair that I could manage.”

Shortly after moving to New York, Leigh happened to serve Hairstory hairdresser Remy at the restaurant she was working at in Brooklyn, which she describes as, “A sort of a magical collision.” Leigh was weary of stylists trying to please her by asking, “What do you like? What are you trying to do today?” Leigh felt that, “It was exciting to have someone cut my hair who was looking at it more objectively than normal.”

Remy taught Leigh everything she needed to know about Hairstory products, and says that she enjoyed, “Seeing how she worked with them to achieve something really intentional. I’m used to my hair basically doing what it wants and going with it, but these products help you have a more predictable outcome, which is great.”


Leigh makes the curly girl’s universal complaint about washing: “When I use regular shampoo, my hair gets really fuzzy, and then you use all these products to turn it into a shape and not a frizz ball.” She realizes now that her hair can have the ideal texture if, “I use the right kind of shampoo – or not shampoo. There’s something extra, different, or special about New Wash that I think might have to do with how much Aloe is in it.”

Leigh is a Hair Balm fan, and just recently starting using Undressed, explaining, “I like a bit of a structured quality. Because my hair is fine and I want it to stand away from my head and take up as much space as possible, I like a product that isn’t too bulky and that weighs it all down. It’s a very fine balance.” Leigh loves Undressed because, “I can put it on day after day and it doesn’t get weird or gross, it just seems to integrate into my hair. I can add as much as I want; I’m never afraid to use too much and have to start all over again. Nobody has time for that.” It gives her texture and structure: “I can sort of smush my hair into place and it’ll stay there for a while, and it works when I mess with it, which I tend to do; I like fluffing it because I want it to always be really big.”