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Andrea Works Her Magic From Hair To Weaves To Wigs



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Andrea Works Her Magic From Hair To Weaves To Wigs

By John Voket

Former Newtown resident Catherine Stanley remembers many trips to have her hair cut and styled by Andrea Colelli, who worked at several salons in the area before opening her own shop, tucked discreetly around the back of 33 Main Street in the shadow of Newtown’s towering flagpole. But in 2001, following an operation for a traumatic brain injury and some accompanying hair loss, Ms Stanley, who had since relocated to Westchester County, N.Y., found she needed Ms Colelli’s expertise again.

Despite what could have been a very traumatic cosmetic setback, the young woman was very pleased to learn that her former stylist had acquired some new skills — repairing hairlines with weaves, as well as styling and maintaining full wigs.

Today, Andrea’s Hair Studio caters to female and male clientele whether they are coming in for a cut and style of their own hair, enhancing their look with a thickening weave, or for full wig services.

“I specialize in both the traditional and nonsurgical methods of hair replacement,” Ms Colelli told The Newtown Bee one recent morning between client appointments.

She recalled that more than 25 years ago, as a stylist just out of school, she was asked by a male client to help change the style of his hair piece. That experience led Ms Colelli to seek out a new job in a Stratford salon that handled a considerable number of wigs and hair pieces.

“At the time I was wearing them, and I learned how to handle them,” she said. “So I pursued additional professional training, which brought me all the way to New York — to a hair school in the Empire State Building.”

Since then Ms Colelli has continued her professional development, traveling to training symposiums in Boston and Florida.

She explained that authentic-looking machine-made wigs and hair pieces can start at about $125, and escalate up toward $1,000 for custom-made human hair wigs.

“I like the durability of a synthetic hair piece,” she said. “They require less styling, the color holds up longer, although you can’t recolor it. You can’t sleep on it, and you obviously have to be careful around extreme heat or fire.”

On the other hand, she explained, the more expensive human hair pieces need to be styled more frequently, but they remain more tolerable of stress and heat. Neither require much additional maintenance except regular shampooing, which can be done by the client at home, or the wig can be dropped off to be shampooed at Ms Colelli’s salon.

“Both types can be repaired to some degree, but it’s not always cost-effective,” she said, adding that unfortunately the more expensive and discrete hair pieces are designed with more breathable base materials, which can be most fragile.

“Typically, the lowest cost synthetic wigs are made to be worn for a limited time and disposed of,” Ms Colelli said. Both types can, of course, be trimmed or cut to follow the fashion.

Hair pieces can also be modified by having highlights woven into the hair pattern to change the look, she explained.

“Lifting — or highlighting — is not recommended by the manufacturer. We prefer to send the wigs in so highlights can be added by the manufacturer,” she said. “But ultimately, it’s up to the client. You can tone or darken a hairpiece yourself with textile dyes.”

The top of the line, or most authentic looking and feeling hair pieces are Remi, or cuticle intact wigs. These hair pieces are the most expensive because they are generally the strongest.

“There’s an upside and downside to any type of style,” Ms Colelli said. “Removing the cuticles makes the wig more fragile, but it helps prevent tangling.”

On her most recent visit to Andrea’s, Ms Stanley patiently sat for several hours during a meticulous weaving process, which she has done several times a year.

“Some of my clients wear extensions all the time, others for special occasions,” Ms Colelli said. “We extend up to a 20 percent discount for long-term customers who buy hair bundles or two or more wigs.”

First-time weaves, or hair extensions, can cost upward of $400, but if the hair is reused, maintenance visits every one to two months are in the more affordable $70 range.

In addition, Ms Colelli performs Japanese hair straightening, which involves a three- to four-hour process of chemical applications, conditioning, and manually flattening out any weaves or curling with a flat iron.

“While that process can cost more than $400, advocates of the method believe it leaves one’s hair in better condition,” she said.

Ms Colelli is currently looking for additional stylists with established followings who might want to rent a chair in her salon by the week — commission free. And she would be happy to talk with any hair professional considering broadening their skills to accommodate caring for wigs and hair pieces.

For a consultation on weaves, extensions, or hairpiece designs, contact Ms Colelli at 426-0092.

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