Joseph Mc Calman …The beautician who debunks myths about hair, skin care

Kaieteur News
April 1, 2007

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Whether it's with the snip of a scissors, the skillful swish of a brush on fingernails or with the gentle massage of fingers on skin, Joseph Mc Calman continues to help make and keep Guyanese beautiful.

His huge success in the cosmetology world for the last 15 years is mainly due to the fact that he has learnt and mastered the art of combining beauty with science.

While Joseph is committed to making people look beautiful, he also believes that his role encompasses much more.

As such he has been focusing his efforts on the restoration of damaged hair, skin and nails.

Towards this end, the co-proprietor of Hair Tech, which is located on North Road , also hosts a weekly television programme aimed at educating people on how to acquire and maintain a healthy physical appearance.

“It is a well known fact that at Hair Tech we focus on fixing damaged hair, nails, and skin, and so the majority of our clients are those with problems in those areas, but I like that.

“For me it's a challenge to correct these difficulties because I believe that with the right treatment, solutions can be found for any problem or condition.”

Joseph believes that Guyanese are naturally beautifully people, who, with the correct advice, education and guidance, could be trained in the art of bringing this beauty to the fore.

He also believes that a number of age old myths regarding health and beauty needs to be dispelled if this is to ever be realised.

Joseph is convinced that his love for beauty was spawned during his boyhood days in New Amsterdam .

He recalls that as a youth his mother would call on him to administer colour dye to her graying hair.

His first experience at manicuring was when his father, a diabetic, requested him to cut his finger and toe nails.

He also soon began experimenting with cutting the boys' hair in the community on special occasions. Soon he became the village barber.

After graduating from the Berbice High School , Joseph went on to attend the technical institute in New Amsterdam .

On graduating, he secured a job as a motor mechanic with the Mayor and City Council, and later with the then Guyana Electricity Corporation.

His love for cosmetology was temporarily shelved as he went on to work as an insurance agent with CLICO.

While in Barbados in 1989, he met his present wife, Joan. According to him, that was the turning point in leading him back to the world of cosmetology.

When the couple agreed that they would spend their lives together, one of the things that was agreed on was that they would engage in a profession that would allow them to be together a lot.

Cosmetology was the natural choice since Joan also had some background in it. She further enhanced this knowledge by completing a three-year course in this field in London .

Upon her return in 1991, the couple established the first Hair Tech establishment in Barbados , which also trained budding cosmetologists.

Within three years, Hair Tech rose to the level of the highest ranking salon on the island, but Joseph recalls that there was no scope for upward mobility and so they made a decision in 1994 to return home.

In order to create a name for itself, Hair Tech linked up with a few established salons in the city for the first few years.

In 1998, they finally got a break and were able to launch out on their own. The location was upstairs of the Blue Flame Salon on America Street .

A few years ago, the couple was finally able to acquire their own building at the present location at 7 North Road .

Acknowledging that a lot of competition exists in the cosmetology field, Joseph said he has been able to stay above the field because he realises that there is a high level of technology involved it cosmetology and has studied to master it.

He noted that while most salons just focus on beautifying the customer, his attention is directed towards educating towards preventing problems associated with the skin, hair and nails, as well as remedial methods for treating with damages to these vital body parts.

Joseph dispelled a few beliefs which he said exist in Guyana , and have had a negative impact on persons reaching their full potential in attaining physical beauty.

He said that there is no broad-based, across the board, or magic product that works for just everyone.

“There is this belief out there that a specific product, because it's popular and may be working for the multitude it may work for you, but the trick is to learn what works for you as an individual, and the way that this can be done is to listen to the signs that your hair, nails and skin are giving you.”

He explained that there are six skin types; dry, oily, normal, combination (of dry and oily), sensitive and mature.

Most of the time a person can determine what type of skin they have by the symptoms it exhibits.

Joseph also pointed out that the hair, skin and nails consist of keratin proteins and as such should be treated specially.

“What affects the skin affects the hair because the hair grows from the skin and the skin feeds from the blood, so in turn our diet affects our hair and skin.”

Joseph said because Guyana has a tropical climate, the sun is the biggest enemy of the skin.

The sun's energy sinks into the skin's cells and causes a lot of damage, including premature aging. He advises that as much as possible, persons should stay out of the sun.

He also advocates that persons get back into the habit of using an umbrella once they are in the sun.

For those persons who have been taught that hair should be washed every two weeks, Joseph has different advice.

Because of the climate, Joseph says persons should shampoo hair every three days to a week.

There is also no truth in the belief that unprocessed hair constitutes healthy hair.

According to Joseph, as long as processed hair is cared for properly, it can be as healthy as natural hair.

“As a matter of fact, I have seen persons who have never put any chemical in their hair but (the hair) is breaking and very unhealthy.

“This is because it is not being properly cared for.”

Joseph has also given the green light for all hair styles. According to him, there is a myth that some styles damages and constricts hair growth.

He reiterates that after-care of hair styles is very important, and once that is maintained, any style should be encouraged.

Joseph also says that there is no medical evidence to support the myth that bleaching creams (a rave in Guyana ) can be damaging to one's skin. He believes that once it is used in moderation, it is a safe practice.

Another belief he sought to dismiss is that specific products which targets a certain race may be more effective on those persons.

He pointed out that in his years of practice, he has seen products specifically made for one ethnic group create problems in that race and work miracles with another ethnic group.

“These manufacturers know that there is a need for people to feel special and as such they create products designed to target special races. But anyone can use any product made by anyone for anyone either successfully or unsuccessfully.”

Joseph also warned that not just because a product may be expensive it means that it is of a superior quality.

“With skin lotions for example, a more expensive one may simply mean that it is blended better, which may contribute to better absorption but it does not mean anything else.”

More and more Guyanese are becoming conscious of the importance of healthy hair, skin and nails, according to him, and are clamouring for advice.

He recalls that in the past, beautifying of the body was thought to be a ‘female thing'. In the recent past, more men are accessing the services for their nails, hair and skin.

Joseph also dispelled the myth that a lot of money has to be expended to maintain a healthy appearance.

“If persons adhere to the simple rules of washing their hair regularly, keeping their nails clean and short and using shampoos, conditioners and skin lotions that are suitable for their specific needs, healthy appearances could be achieved”.

Joseph plans to access more technological equipment that illustrate, in microscopic detail, problems associated with the nails, hair and skin so that he can more accurately diagnose and treat the problems.