Anyone who walks into Nikki Bacay’s salon would see he runs a pretty tight ship. Attendants keep a watchful eye on the door for clients, promptly usher you to a seat, offer refreshments, and coordinate with one another to get you started on your day of pampering.
The place isn’t your run-of-the-mill salon—not the usual scene of staff gossiping about the latest celebrity hookups and breakups, blow-drying each other’s hair, talking about the intricacies of their love lives, and so on.
The discipline with which Bacay runs his salon, coupled with his know-how, explain his success in hairstyling. He is the Schwarzkopf Professional ambassador.
For 15 years now, Bacay has worked with Schwarzkopf, a German-based company founded by Hans Schwarzkopf that has been around for more than 111 years and has become one of the top three hair cosmetics brands in the world.
“I share the philosophy with Schwarzkopf and I apply what I’ve learned abroad to give quality services to my clients,” he said. As ambassador, Bacay would travel to Japan, Hong Kong or China twice a year for training and, upon his return, he would train local hairdressers.
“I like going abroad, because I learn a lot from different hairdressers I meet and from the experience itself.”
Though he gets to travel frequently, he’s quick to say the perks come with struggles, as everything is done “step-by-step and with careful attention to detail.”
“Everyday, we’d have to do one look which should be totally different from the previous one.”
As global ambassador for Schwarzkopf, he hopes to reach out to more local hairdressers.
His advice to fellow hairdressers: “Even though you’re already an established hairdresser, it doesn’t mean you can just do what you want.” A good leader must also be a good follower, and “know when he should follow directions.”
The Hair Asia, Hairdressing & Cosmetologists Association of the Phils., and Phil. Hair Dressing awards are just among the numerous recognitions enjoyed by Bacay. One he’s particularly proud of is the Filipino Hairdresser of the Year award.
“It’s my dream to see myself as one of the best hairdressers in the Philippines,” he said.
His expertise in hair-cutting and coloring has made him the go-to guy for total hair revamp. His eyes lit up when I told him my plan to change my hair from light brown to red. Fearing he might’ve gotten the wrong notion of “red,” I quickly told him I wanted a very dark shade, not one that would make me look like an anime character.
As we agreed on the hue, he reached for a pair of scissors and took a snip at my hair before giving detailed instructions to his assistants. I ended up with a new crown of auburn hair.
“It’s exciting to do different hair colors and styles,” he said.
As Filipinos are more conservative and prefer classic hairstyles, Bacay hopes he’d get more clients who aren’t afraid to experiment.
“In Japan, people aren’t afraid to use different hair colors and have different hair styles, so I’m hoping I could do more edgy, short and trendy hairdos.”
Besides cut and color, he hopes to educate clients on how to properly care for their hair.
“Feeling nila, ’pag nag-salon na sila, magic na. So for the whole month, ganun na yung buhok nila. You have to take care of your hair and get hair treatments frequently.”
He added: “If you have a pet, why do you groom it? If you’re sick, why do you go to the doctor? It’s exactly the same with your hair. You have to give importance to it.”
He suggests getting a hair treatment at least twice a month after hair coloring to keep it healthy, and letting hair rest for two to three months before having it colored again.
“It also depends on the history of your hair. If you have white hair, I suggest having it colored more often,” said Bacay. “You also have to pick the right brand, check the ingredients, and be wary of using fake or generic products.”
A common misconception he wants to address is that “hair color is bad for you, especially if you’re pregnant.” This isn’t true, said Bacay. Hair color isn’t harmful as long as one takes good care of his or her hair.