International hair educator and stylist Van Thomas recently unveiled a Christine by Van Thomas Concepts line.
Top hair stylist and educator Van Thomas has styled hair in over 36 countries, founded salons in Kansas, California, and Las Vegas, and served as international education director at JOICO, artistic director at Bosley, and vice president of sales for Iden Cosmetics.
The New Jersey native’s new Christine by Van Thomas Concepts line, named for and inspired by his late daughter, features his reconstructive Life Complex formula in four products—a shampoo, conditioner, protective glaze, and body wash—with more in the works. We caught up with world-renowned stylist to learn more about the new line he launched in March, and his 35 years in the business.
How did you get into the industry? VAN THOMAS: I became a hairdresser in 1976. I was in the military almost ten years, I went overseas in Asia for seven years straight, and went to beauty school in Chicago while in the services. That got a lot of laughs. I met up with JOICO, and I stayed with them 15 years [as] a local educator involved in international education, and [then] went to Bosley and I helped them develop their products. I stayed there all that time, [then] I pretty much retired. My daughter, Christine, frequently asked why I didn't make my own products. And then three years ago, she suddenly died, so we made this product, her husband and I, and thus, the name Christine.
Did you feel like there was a need in the market? VT: From day one being a hairdresser, the thing that I hated the most, that I tried to concentrate on, was damaged hair. Everything damages your hair; running your fingers through your hair damages your hair. One time, my friend asked if I could come up with just one product for the beauty industry, what would it be? And I said, a good reconstructor that really works. And boy, I think we hit it.
What’s in your Christine by Van Thomas Conceptsreconstructor? VT: We put together a complex that’s going to be in every single product that we make now or in the future. It's called Life Complex, and it’s a combination of keratin protein, silk protein, and jojoba oil. Keratin is what you’ve already got in your hair, so we’re replacing what you’ve taken out, silk retains hundreds of times its weight in moisture, and jojoba oil is most similar to the scalp and skin’s natural oil.
What trends are you seeing in the hair world? VT: First of all, we’ve got the bob haircut. That’s never gone anywhere, and it’s never going to go anywhere. But what I see happening lately, especially right now, is the trend toward women wanting long hair again. Everybody’s trying to grow hair. I worked on Asian hair for most of my career, and when I started developing these products, that’s what I geared them toward. Because that’s what people want: that shiny, long, healthy hair. And that’s what I want to help them get.
Do you have any tips? VT: To grow your hair long, you have to get it trimmed every six weeks. Your hair won’t grow faster, but it will get longer faster. You’ve got to get those split ends cut off, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of hair, just a sixteenth of an inch, but do it regularly, and your hair will get longer faster.
How have you seen the industry change over your career? VT: I absolutely loved the ‘60s cuts, the Sassoon cuts. The ‘70s was pretty easy. The ‘80s was terrifying, with all the big hair, back-brushing, back-combing, and hard-holding hairsprays. Some people were purposely damaging their hair; perms were huge. The ‘90s started to soften up a bit. And now, it’s soft, and the colors are incredible.
How is the LA market unique? VT: In LA, people have their own style. Whereas New York is really following a trend, out here people are more individuals. They want to stand out, they want to be the person that they want to be, and they don’t care what the trend is.