Mandy Zelinka // Hairstylist

Portland || Seattle

The Oregonian

The Oregonian

The Oregonian Staff
December 13, 2008

Mandy Zelinka is hard at play.”When I first met my stepson, he laughed and said, ‘You play with hair for a living,’ ” the Portland hairstylist says. “I thought, yeah, I guess I do.”On a recent Sunday at her Pearl District salon, Salon 77, Zelinka glams up two longtime clients to demonstrate that dramatic looks don’t necessarily require permanent commitment. Jennifer Hall, a singer, likes to change her stage look and Megan Coughlin, a student, wants to dress up her style for holiday events. Zelinka uses clip-on hairpieces and stitch-styling techniques for temporary allure.”I kind of grew up in salons,” Zelinka says. Her mother was a hairdresser and her best friend’s mother owned a salon. “I was the kid who cut off all her Barbie’s hair.”Many of Zelinka’s first customers are still with her 10 years later. Some trust her to make decisions about what they need, while others come with specific directions. And when a painfully predictable client suddenly insists on a completely different look, Zelinka has learned to approach with caution.”People usually take out issues on their hair,” she says.Zelinka stays up on the latest techniques but has grown weary of the often-gimmicky demonstrations at hair shows, such as the time a stylist stuck wires all over a model’s head and then dangled baby shoes from her hair.”I like all that art for your head,” she says, “but I love that we’re coming back to hairdressing.”At Salon 77, Zelinka has 13 stylists, two aestheticians who lease space and two people booking appointments. She also writes a regular column that appears in hair-trade publications.Here’s a look at those two recent makeovers.* Not to gossip, but Jennifer Hall is two-faced. By day she presents a corporate facade and businesslike smile; come night, she’s a sultry siren. Such splits call for a good therapist. Or a great hairstylist. Hall opted for Zelinka.”I’m trying to grow my hair out,” Hall says. “Mandy’s showing me how to use extensions for the in-between stage.”As the lead vocalist for Jenn and Tonic, Hall often performs wearing vintage cocktail dresses and evening gowns to suit the smoky jazz melodies she favors, but her bob wasn’t cutting it.Zelinka dyes Hall’s hair a rich, dark brown and blows it dry. She pulls out a hairpiece from the Jessica Simpson collection that looks something like a little hairy hula skirt laid flat. In the 1960s, women who wanted longer hair instantly got falls that sat atop the head like a wig; today’s extensions clip beneath the hair for a more natural look.”But,” Zelinka cautions, “it will look like a mullet unless you take it to your hairstylist and have them add layers.”She forms a top knot with about one-quarter of Hall’s hair at the crown. Maybe three inches below that, Zelinka wraps rubber bands around a half-dozen small shanks of hair for pigtails, on which she secures the artificial hair. The extensions reach below Hall’s shoulder blades.Once they’re in place, Zelinka snips dozens of layers into them, shortening them several inches. Hall’s bob is transformed beyond recognition.”I just sexified you!” Zelinka declares. “Mee-ow!”Hall laughs.”As a performer, I can show up for a gig as whatever mood,” she says. “I get to be a different version of myself.”*


Megan Coughlin, 19, has put her head in Zelinka’s care for 10 years.”My older sister was coming to her and then we brought in the whole family and everyone we knew,” Coughlin says. “Cousins, friends, neighbors.”Schools have room mothers. Scouts have den mothers. “She’s our hair mother,” Coughlin jokes.On this day, the Oregon State University sophomore wants to keep her hair long. So Zelinka just trims it and demonstrates how to curl the ends and pull it up for special occasions using a technique she learned from Kevin Murphy, an Australian stylist whose natural hair-care products she favors.She holds up a dull, thick, plastic darning needle and says, “It’s from the sewing shop.” She threads it with fishing line.She pulls Coughlin’s hair into a high ponytail and, within minutes, creates a tousled French roll, loosely twisting and looping bits of hair and stitching them back to the ponytail.The style is great for brides or special nights out “because you just do this,” Zelinka says, pulling the end of the thread. In one swift move, Coughlin’s hair tumbles down, like in those old movies with the prim secretary-cum-femme fatale. Zelinka also pulls Coughlin’s hair into a low ponytail at the nape of her neck and twists, loops and stitches it into a mussy chignon. She makes it look easy; she says anyone can achieve a similar look at home with friends and even use colored thread for show.* Makeup artist Madeline Roosevelt creates soft looks for Coughlin and Hall with an airbrush application of mineral makeup, further blending it with a sponge applicator.”It’s quick and flawless,” she says, “and stays on for eight to 10 hours.”A freelancer, Roosevelt works on a variety of jobs, including bridal shoots for Jasmine Photography in Portland, Shape and More magazines and MTV’s total makeover show, “Made.” Her line of custom-blend cosmetics, Madi Cosmetics, will be available next month at her studio, 2505 S.E. 11th Ave., #268, Portland, and online at also applies false lashes to Hall and Coughlin, in small clusters on the outer edge of the eye for a natural look. She uses pencil liner softened with a brush to avoid a harsh line.”The biggest mistake people make,” she says, “is not matching foundation to their skin tone.”If you don’t have an eye for color, rely on someone who does and “always,” she says, “check it in natural light.”Vivian McInerny: 503-294-4076;



Mandy Zelinka published article at

Every woman with a pulse shamefully sits with all of the latest gossip mags in her lap for the duration of her hair appointment. If she is fortunate enough she has scheduled a foil as well, allowing her more time to peruse the naughty publications. Inevitably, at the end of the beautification, it is bashfully acknowledged, “I wish I could do that at home.” It almost becomes anti-climactic. She is sent out looking her absolute best, only to know the look will never ever be replicated from her own bathroom. That coupled with the photo montage of starlets running through her head because of all of the magazines that have been emotionally ingested. So what is a woman to do?

There are a few tricks up the sleeves of professionals, and most of them start with 4 items: blowdryer, curling iron, bob pins, hairspray. When editorial stylists are on a set for a photoshoot they don’t have time to gunk up the models hair, much less use countless items to create the look.. Super! We can’t afford to by a bunch of stuff anyhow, and all of these things can be purchased at your local drug store.

For volume: A blowdryer must be used. Sorry. If you are a lazy Daisy this is impossible to sidestep. But…To assist in your sleep apnea you can let your hair air dry for most of it, or you can even throw a volumizing product in at the root, on wet hair, before bed. Wake up in the morning, with a dry friction fro, and lightly mist. Now, take that blowdryer, toss your head upside down, and activate that volumiser with the heat from your dryer. Voila! We just saved ourselves a half-hour that we can now use to stalk on facebook.

An updo. Really? Surely, sister! And this can be done at any length. Tease (oh yes, I sure did say tease. Or rat. Insert fav word if you must) that crown. Get a bit of height. Spray if you must. Take the back of your hair and just twist a few sections and pin. And that is it. HUH? Yup, yah know how the models hair in magazines are that perfectly coiffed messy bunch of hair? These looks are created on set in literally 5 minutes. The highly paid photographer doesn’t have a lot of time to be messing around, so it needs to be done quickly and efficiently. If this becomes a completely mind boggling experience, then throw a pony in it, and randomly pin the tail. And, if all else fails, throw a stinkin’ flower behind your ear before you head out the door.

Gossip Girl curls. Where do these kids come from, because the chicks I went to high school with never looked like them. Regardless, this is the most envied look of the moment, and who doesn’t want to be the smartest dresser of all her friends? (You can only be a smart dresser if you are accompanied with smartly done hair!) So, that curling iron I made you buy, this is where it comes in. Mid strand down on your hair, grab a pretty sizable fist full of hair and curl it from the mid-shaft, leaving out 2 inches at the bottom. Proceed around your head, you will need to curl no more than 7 sections. This technique is widely used on editorial photoshoots. Let the hair cool down (smarty pants insider knowledge: A curl is created when the hair is heated up, opening up the cuticle, and thus the curl is set as the hair cools and the cuticle lays back down.) and then run your fingers through to break up the curl. Throw your head upside down and shake if you will. Because we let the curl cool down in a curled position, this will last until you wash.

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