“All hairstylists work with energy,” says Nicole Cichocki, master stylist and founder of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in New York City. “But most don’t have the knowledge or tools to navigate it. It’s like a superhero not knowing how to use their superpowers!”
Energy work is a process where a practitioner consciously uses intention to open, clear and balance the human energy field that surrounds and permeates your body, which science refers to as your “biofield.” When the human energy field is open and flowing, it influences optimal physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Modern medicine uses the body’s energy fields diagnostically and for treatment – the electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, and electromyogram measure the bioelectrical fields around the heart, brain, and muscles – and science has identified energy fields around the retina, the nerves, some organs, and glands.
Doctors use vibrational sound energy, light, and lasers; pulses of infrared light can treat depression; static magnets can alleviate pain or break up scar tissue. So when we talk about healing by interacting with the energy field, we’re talking about measurable, well-documented, and increasingly mainstream practices.
The observance of energy dates back for thousands of years. Indian culture refers to it as Prana, Chinese culture as Qi, the Kabbalah and Jewish tradition call it astral light, and the Bible recounts Jesus surrounded by fields of light performing hands-on healing. Quantum Physicists have found that 96% of energy in the universe is formless, intangible, invisible, and yet to be fully understood by even the most advanced science.
You are part of the rare, tiny fraction of 4% of existing energy that has taken physical form.
Acupuncture is a classic form of energy medicine – an electromagnetic intervention through the electromagnetic meridians in the body. It can calm areas of the brain that register physical discomfort and activate those responsible for rest and recuperation. It can increase blood flow in treated areas, and diminish inflammation. It can even increase fertility in IVF patients by 50%.
Researchers at Columbia University discovered that running a low-frequency current through damaged bone speeds healing. It happens to be the same frequency of energy emitted through Reiki or Qigong masters’ healing hands – and this is an important fact for hairdressers or anyone who touches others for a living to understand – our hands have an energy field measured to be 1000 times larger than the one surrounding the heart. There’s so much more to this than physiology.
...an important fact for anyone who touches others for a living to understand – our hands have an energy field measured to be 1000 times larger than the one surrounding the heart. There’s so much more to this than physiology.
So what are Reiki and Qigong exactly? Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation, and healing administered by “laying on hands” based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy” flows through us and animates us. If it is low, illness or stress is more likely; when it is high, we are more capable of happiness and health. “Rei” means wisdom or the higher power, and “Ki” means life force energy. So Reiki actually means “spiritually guided life force energy” that treats the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Many have reported miraculous results with every known illness and malady, often in conjunction with all other forms of healing, including drugs, surgery, psychology, and other methods of alternative care.
Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice akin to yoga (“qi” means life force energy, and “gong” means work). Its purpose is to unblock and release the healing power within and amplify the exchange of life force energy (chi/qi) with the energy of the Universe to create harmony within ourselves. Quantum physicists now see the universe as ninety-six percent formless energy and four percent energy that has consolidated into form. To bring about healing, Qigong practices utilize the formless energy to shift the nature of the form.
All energy healers have one thing in common: They access the body’s electromagnetic field in a way that prompts self-healing or, to give it the scientific term, restores homeostasis (the ability to maintain a relatively stable equilibrium).
When we are healthy and happy, our energy flows freely in a state of balance. Disease and dysfunction show up as stagnation or blockage – individually or societally – when the energy of any system is out of balance. Whatever the condition, the healing process is the same: simple movement practices, sounds, and visualizations applied to ourselves and others. This transmission of information amplifies the penetration of the healing energy deep into our molecular structure and deliberately provides a new framework for transformational process.
When we are healthy and happy, our energy flows freely in a state of balance. Disease and dysfunction show up as stagnation or blockage – individually or societally – when the energy of any system is out of balance.
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Dr. Jill Blakeway, DACM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine), author, founder, and clinic director of the YinOva Center in New York City describes how energy practitioners prepare to work by slowing down the brain, emptying the mind, or employing one technique or another to distract or suppress the ego – or get their heads out of the way. “This opens the capacity to enter an intuitive state to allow the exchange of energetic information,” she says, “and become a resonant conduit so that practitioner and subject are in silent collaboration with each other – when there is a shared intention.”
“This ability to access this energy is our birthright,” she states. “We are all potential healers.”
Here is a simple exercise adapted from what Dr. Blakeway describes as the way practitioners ground themselves in preparation to connect with patients – and to avoid being drained in the process:
• Sit comfortably with your spine free, or stand in a relaxed, soft pose.
• Imagine a thick cord or chain extending down from your body deep into the earth. Push it farther and farther toward the core. Allow your body to feel the heaviness of the gravitational connection.
• Now, straighten your spine (without clenching) and draw your attention to the spot on top of your head just in front of the crown (the fontanel, or the area that is soft at birth).
• Imagine pulling a brilliant, sparkling light down from the heavens and funnel it into this spot. Feel it flood through your body down to your toes.
• Imagine pushing this energy outward to expand beyond your skin an inch or two surrounding your entire body.
• Bring your hands together with palms facing each other about 6 inches apart and concentrate. You may feel a warmth, a tingling, a resistance, or an attraction between them – different people feel different sensations. This is, in fact, the presence of healing energy available to affect others and yourself.
If you feel scattered, or forgetful, or anxious, just take a moment and ground yourself. You just might find answers to a problem (or find your house keys).
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“Okay,” I can hear you thinking. “What does this have to do with hairdressing?” A lot, it turns out. I sat down to chat with Jikaiah, a hairstylist and certified Reiki practitioner who recently relocated to New York from San Francisco where she worked at Edo Salon. She now sees clients at Hairstory Studio.
AB: How did you begin doing energy work?
Jikaiah: I was raised with energy work. My mom always used it, so it wasn’t super-foreign to me. When I was in cosmetology school a million years ago, my teacher instructed me to go to a Reiki therapist. And I experienced such a depth of feeling then, but although I had an interest and respect for it, I wasn’t yet attuned to it.
Being a hairstylist is energy work. We hold such an intimate space in the short time we have with our clients. That’s why it’s like going to a therapist – so many tears shed in so many chairs – divorces, cancers, losses, loves; we’re there. Most hairstylists do it because their intention is to make people feel better, and that’s where they find joy.
AB: Which energy modality you have chosen use with clients?
Jikaiah: There are so many different modalities of energy work, but Reiki is the one that I’m mainly attuned to. As I’ve matured, it has helped to make the beauty industry feel less vapid for me personally. I’ve struggled with how it actually hurts women by being told how to be consumable for a man versus empowering them. When I connect through Reiki or a client’s energy in my chair, I can find out who they are deep inside, and what they want to be versus what they were told they should be.
When I connect through Reiki or a client’s energy in my chair, I can find out who they are deep inside, and what they want to be versus what they were told they should be.
I find that people open up connect because the energy fields are open. Whether we’re doing a Reiki treatment or a typical hair appointment, my hands are on them and a greater, open field is flowing. My goal as a hairstylist with the platform I have is to let other hairstylists become aware of the power they have in their hands, in their words, and in their energy to help a client tap into what makes them feel beautiful – and bring beauty from inside outward.
Reiki’s field concept, to put it that way, is similar to acupuncture in the sense that it moves energy around. In the teachings of Reiki, the person who is giving is a conduit. That’s why I book hour-and-a-half appointments. I don’t like to be rushed because I’m not performing just one level of service. I really want to connect with my clients. I like doing photos before and after because I think it makes people feel beautiful. I get comments on social media saying they can really see clients glowing. That’s really powerful for me.
AB: So it’s more than “hair-deep’, so to speak.
Jikaiah: People often come for a beauty service because they’re feeling down. I have moms who haven’t taken care of themselves and are looking for that sense of self back. If we can go further than just the outside, I think the impact lasts a lot longer.
We all crave touch in so many different ways, and that’s why we've developed so many professions that enable that, like massage. As they say, a hug can really save the day, you know? Simple touches. So many people are not touched during their day – or their life. So when they get to your chair, there really is a vulnerability. And you hold this sacred space. 20 minutes in they’re telling you something they’ve never told anybody in their entire lives, and they’re not sure why. I think it’s because hairstylists care by nature, and we put our energy out there in that safe space, knowing that clients come to feel better.
Awareness the key. We all have the ability. The more we talk about it, the more people are able to tap into it. The more conversations, articles or podcasts, the more interest there is because people who work in this industry want to do the most they can to make people feel better. They’re open to it.
AB: Do you see this emerging from its niche and becoming more mainstream?
Jikaiah: More of us energy healers with a strong social media following are bringing it to the mainstream; it’s spreading faster than ever. It gives us such an opportunity to bring so much more love into the world. When I changed my Instagram bio to mention Reiki, I knew there was a risk involved offending the mainstream by being too “woo-woo,” you know? ‘You’re from San Francisco, okay, whatever, but you’re going to lose some of your following.’ And I haven’t. I haven’t had a single negative message about it. I post pictures of me giving Reiki to people in the park, and people reach out asking questions.
There are so many resources for so many different modalities that work with the creative world of hair. I go to other salons to teach haircutting, and I’m still training in Reiki, but eventually, I could teach new haircuts and attune the whole salon! How encompassing could hairdressing really be? Think of the impact that the beauty industry should have had all along. Imagine everyone getting their hair done and getting the love that they need, and they pass it on – we really could make this world a better place.
I think a lot of us have learned that our insides don’t count, in the same way that women aren’t allowed to age in this greater society. I have so many clients who are facing that. I personally struggle with that. When we feel beautiful on the inside, we realize that’s what counts. But when we only focus on beauty on the outside, that’s all we can see.
When we feel beautiful on the inside, we realize that’s what counts. But when we only focus on beauty on the outside, that’s all we can see.
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Next, I spoke with Nicole Cichocki, master stylist and integrative beauty consultant with over 20 years working in the salon, backstage, and as an educator. She is the founder of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in New York City – a beauty practice that fuses energy work with hair services.
AB: Would you say that energy work is the future of hairdressing?
Nicole: I do think it’s the future and it’s slowly arriving because of many things. First is the obvious way that wellness has hit consumers in our industry, but personally, I came to this work very honestly. I’m highly empathic and always have been. I love hairdressing and I didn’t want to quit, but I needed to learn how to manage my own energy and being around other people’s energy – otherwise, I couldn’t do this work anymore.
Hairdressers are very aware of energy, but there hasn’t been a language for it. Science is catching up to what healers have known for thousands of years about energy fields. We are now able to measure the human energy field; there’s an organization called HeartMath [“A system of effective, scientifically based tools and technologies to bridge the intuitive connection between heart and mind and deepen our connection with the hearts of others, reads their website] that studies the heart and its electromagnetic field. We’ve always thought the human intelligence centers around our brain, right? But energetically speaking, the electromagnetic field of the heart actually radiates about ten times more broadly.
AB: Walk us through a client session. What does that look like?
Nicole: A really big part of my practice is my preparation. I have a steady, consistent practice of getting quiet and grounded so that I can show up not just as a hairstylist, but as an empath – who has boundaries – who can channel the bigger energy source in service to my client. It’s the part that my clients don’t see, but they feel it.
I’m trained in a modality called Healing Touch [endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA), the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) has 2 national accreditations that hold training to a certain level of excellence]. There are lots of different energy modalities out there, but this one resonated for me. The main thing that energy therapy does – and in particular Healing Touch – is trigger the relaxation response to allow health benefits physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
When I see clients in my salon it’s part hair care and part what I call Embeautyment – the meeting of wellness and beauty. My consultation isn’t just about hair, it’s about the whole person. I ask them to identify where they’re at energetically – and where they’d like to be.
Not everyone who I see would necessarily seek out energy work, so my goal is to make it as accessible as possible and keep it very simple. I call it energy for beginners – a menu to pick one of six intentions to give us a starting point and open the conversation.
I think of my consultation as foundational; I gather information verbally, but also from what my intuition picks up, and by reading body language. When they talk about emotion, where do their hands go? Do they grab their stomach? Throat? Are they touching their head?
Then we start doing energy work at the shampoo bowl. Ours reclines and we both listen to calming music, and I use essential oils to help facilitate whatever intention we’re holding. From there we go into cutting or styling; I don’t do conscious energy work in the same way that I do at the beginning of the session, but I essentially try to tie the intention we established earlier back into their after-care – the products they use, and how their routine can be a ritual that helps support it. So they’re leaving with ways to care for their hair, but also with ways to care for themselves, their energy being, their whole being.
I made a really conscious decision to take more time with each client because I don’t want to see 20 people in a day anymore; that doesn’t work for my energy system. I know I can’t be of maximum service running at that pace.
AB: What would you say to a hairdresser who is hearing about energy work and wants to know more – somebody on the verge of discovery?
Nicole: I guess the most important thing is that we all have a chakra system, and the ones that sit in the upper plane from the heart up are all about the connections to the divine. These are the highest expressions of ourselves – and this is the landscape that hairdressers are working in.
So just know that the work you do as a hairdresser is sacred. We are in a totally touch-deprived time in history. You may be one of a few people who physically touch your clients, so recognize that, and know that hairdressers are doing healing work – whether they know it or not. So much of my work now is about educating and empowering hairdressers, makeup artists, and anyone in beauty service to understand that what they do is powerful, sacred, and an honor.
So much of my work now is about educating and empowering hairdressers, makeup artists, and anyone in beauty service to understand that what they do is powerful, sacred, and an honor.
The goal of the Embeautyment method is to help beauty professionals tangibly integrate wellness into their practices. Energy is one of those pathways; another way is research. Go take an introductory healing touch or Reiki class. Anybody interested in energy should have a book in their library called Hands of Light by Barbara Brennan. She wrote it in the late ’70s, and we’re still not ready for this book!
I call myself a skeptical mystic because I love the science. I like research. If things are too ‘out there’ I have a hard time grasping them. You don’t have to believe in healing touch and energy work to receive the benefits of it. It’s happening anyway. I always tell people, ‘The worst thing that can happen is you’ll feel like taking a nap. There are loads and loads of research about what physical touch does to us, so that’s undeniable. Even if this is a placebo, who cares? If you feel better…”
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Next, I spoke to color goddess Roxie Darling who has created an extraordinary practice solidly centered around the vibrational aspects of color to “facilitate an inner energetic shift through aesthetic change.” A self-proclaimed “healer, colorist, and hair witch,” The Staten Island native acquired over a decade of haircolor experience at Bumble and Bumble, Cutler Salon, Hairstory, and Suite Caroline’s.
Roxie took a deep dive into spiritual and energy studies at age 24. As she “followed moon cycles, practiced yoga, received energy healing, and worked with magical women,” she became convinced that she could incorporate energy healing into the hair color process and align one’s aura with the way one looks.
Services at her home studio in Brooklyn include: Vibrational Haircolor to align inner transformation with the outer; The New Moon Haircut – an “intuitively guided transformation” – offered only during the first week after every new moon to reveal the unseen and inspire new directions; The Crystal Comb-Out , a shamanic journey to shed societal projections of who we should be, what we should feel, and how we should look. Roxie’s work includes intuitive counseling for creative and hair professionals seeking new possibilities and a larger perspective.
AB: Like you, I am fascinated with the possibilities of energy healing and what is coming to light for many people. It’s as if we’re learning how to be fully human by discovering powers that have been somehow dormant.
Roxie: Or they’ve been conditioned away from us by people who were threatened by them.
AB: Can you talk about the fusion of energy work and hairdressing?
Roxie: The interesting thing for me is letting hairdressers know that this is an option for them. I’m at a point in my career where I have visited a lot of options – working in the salon, in the editorial field, with celebrities, or for product companies. Those options are great, but my passion really lies in making people feel good and doing that one-on-one work behind a chair.
So for me, the intersection of the two has been understanding my personal journey and my relationship to energy and my own hair. If I change my hair, it changes the way I feel, and I realized that other people are probably feeling that, too. So it’s really about changing the conversation from “How you want to look?” to “How do you want to feel?” and using the tools in my energy healing toolkit alongside my technical experience to serve my clients.
AB: How did you study color theory and its vibrational aspects? Where did that knowledge come from?
Roxie: I’m actually about to sign up to audit a traditional college color theory class as we speak, but I was introduced to the concept through a couple of books about chakras and vibrational healing that are pretty esoteric. But color and light and sound have a speed at which they travel. Learning about their different frequencies made me think, if this is the science, there’s got to be a way to integrate that knowledge into the way people look.
AB: It’s physics, right?
Roxie: Exactly. It is physics. It’s really about the way that light and sound travel.
AB: Tell us a little about your healing training or your experience working with energy.
Roxie: I’m a Shamanic Reiki healer and going through that training really helped me to align with my purpose, which is helping people through my craft. When you train, you learn that it has nothing to do with you and your energy, but you are committing to being a conduit for healing energy. I hit a point in my career where I was feeling really burnt out and even thinking about leaving hairdressing altogether because for so long, I thought that it was absorbing my energy and was about me. But this allowed me to ignite a new, brighter spark with my hairdressing career.
There were all of these career options for me that are very glamorous and very sparkly. But they weren’t allowing me to do the deeper work that I knew I needed to do in order to discover what I truly wanted.
AB: That took you awhile to do. It was a hard decision to ‘come out’ as an energy worker.
Roxie: Absolutely. There were all of these career options for me that are very glamorous and very sparkly. But they weren’t allowing me to do the deeper work that I knew I needed to do in order to discover what I truly wanted. So to abandon all of those things that people had done before me and go off on this path where no one can teach me was a very intense process that I’m still very much in. I wouldn’t have arrived here had I not been in a condition where there was nothing left for me to do other than seek the unknown.
I do believe that my technical training has been a beautiful blessing to me developing my energetic practice because when you learn the technique in a really proper way, you get great results. It has been a solid foundation for me while on this endeavor combining energetic practice with this craft.
AB: Could you describe a case where external changes resulted in an internal transformation?
Roxie: There’s the classic “I was a blonde and I irrationally decided to dye my hair dark but I just didn't feel like myself.” This happens with newer clients who looked a certain way for a long time and got sick of how the world saw them. So they go brunette thinking it’ll last forever, but they discover that it really dims their light, their internal glow, their confidence. So I ask them what it showed them about themselves. Before we take you back to a lighter color, we need to make sure that we’re really not just bypassing this uncomfortable state. Who are you? What do you want? How do you want the world to receive who you are?
AB: You wrote a bit about one’s true self and what I’ll call false self – identifying when people told you what to do, how to be, how to look – and discovering what is you and what isn’t. Can you talk about that?
Roxie: I think that we’re in a time when traditional and societal expectations of beauty are being eradicated, a time when people are allowed to start expressing their true selves. But depending on where you grow up, your lineage of religion, and where your parents came from, many people may have told you what they wanted you to be. I take people on a traditional Shamanic journey back to their earliest memories of what they were told to find the bits and pieces that felt good and retrieve them. When somebody shows up to do that work, it’s a very intense process – let’s hear a round of applause for the people who are ready to truly look at who they want to be.
If there hairdressers out there who are feeling similarly, I can help provide the space for them to become healing hairdressers. I’m going to be launching a few workshops soon on both coasts for people interested in learning how to integrate energetic understanding of the world with a hair color practice.
AB: It’s such a natural extension of what hairdressers already do – and it’s happening anyway whether they are aware of it or not.
Roxie: Baby, you’re taking the words right out of my mouth. It’s really important to me that hairdressers understand exactly how special they are that they get to do this for people. I want us to feel empowered to empower our clients to make choices that come from a place of self love rather wanting to be something they’re not.
These modalities have been around for thousands of years; our ancestors were using them every day. So we’re returning to a very primal thing inside of us – our intuition.
These modalities have been around for thousands of years; our ancestors were using them every day. So we’re returning to a very primal thing inside of us – our intuition. I’m in a psychic development course and my teacher says relaxation is the key – stress is the thing that blocks your intuition, whereas relaxation creates a bed for your intuition to lie on. It’s returning to a very primal practice of understanding who we are as humans.
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These three women were at a crossroads in their careers where a deeper yearning was at odds with the skin-deep concerns of the beauty business. Each was ready to throw away the shears and start fresh, but each found a way to transform their business by combining two passions: the ability to make people look better and to actually help people be better.
by Alexander Brebner