A hair transformation with Stem Salon

April 18, 2017
A before and after hair transformation: 8 inches cut and blonde highlights added

Goodbye Goldilocks…

I’ve been contemplating chopping my hair off for quite a long time now, and I finally pulled the trigger! Even though I do love having long hair, the constant upkeep, brushing, combing, washing, etc. has been wearing on me for too long. I have naturally curly hair (and a lot of it), and it was just getting to be too much! So I went on a little ‘hair hunt’ to find the perfect salon for my hair transformation.

Long, natural blonde hair

As you can see in this ‘before’ photo, my hair was just about touching the bottom of my rib cage, and hadn’t been colored in over half a year. I needed someone who could brighten up the color (and get away from this warm, brassy tone), while also giving me a chic cut that could work with my hair type. I had tried several salons in the Napa area as well as very pricey ones in San Francisco, but was never overly thrilled. So when I found Stem Salon on Instagram, I did a little further research.

Stem Salon came to be about 5 years ago by a hair genius and owner, Elizabeth. Stem is located right in downtown Walnut Creek and is incredibly charming. While the front of the salon may look small (pictured below), there are 2 more additional rooms housing more styling stations, wash stations, and a cute drying room with some high-tech looking dryers!

(^I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about these shoes…find them here for $40!!)

Since I am very picky about my hair (and probably have unreal expectations), I brought Elizabeth a couple photos of what I wanted. I was looking for a cute, long bob that I could still pull back, and I wanted the color to be cool and bright. Here are the photos I brought to Elizabeth:

Not only is Stem Salon adorable, uses great products, and has a fantastic vibe to it, but I was able to listen in on Elizabeth explain what she was doing for my color and cut; a couple other stylists took the opportunity to learn from Elizabeth during my styling, so I got the full rundown on how she bleeds color, why she starts one tone near my hairline and another at the tips, how to ensure the blonde isn’t too warm, and which technique to use on certain parts of the head. I was SO impressed at the attention to detail and just overall knowledge!

(^Before starting anything else, the ponytail was sacrificed haha! I chopped about 8 inches!)

I was most nervous about the cut…not because I was chopping so much off, but because I have such thick, wavy hair, it tends to be a total puff ball when short. Having so much length usually weighed my hair down and prevented the dreaded ‘Triangle Head’ (you all know what that is). But as Elizabeth started cutting, she again was narrating how she was trimming, why she was doing certain things, and the result. For example, she ‘texturized’ my ends to prevent that blunt, chopped look that would lay stiffly and fight my natural curl; with the texture on the ends, it allows my hair to move freely and lay softly.
A long bob with blonde balayage highlights-done by Elizabeth at Stem Salon in Walnut CreekViola! Elizabeth nailed the color and this cut was perfecto. Being the picky person I am, I have always left a salon with a critic or two about the final product; but I can honestly say I was thrilled with my hair! She nailed it…

Here are a few comparisons:

A before and after hair transformation: 8 inches cut and blonde highlights addedA before and after hair transformation: 8 inches cut and blonde highlights added A before and after hair transformation: 8 inches cut and blonde highlights added
What do you think?? The best part of both the color and cut is the Elizabeth designed it to grow out gracefully…I won’t need to race back in every 4 weeks because my roots are coming in too harshly or my cut is growing out in a weird way. Everything was thought out to best suit my lifestyle and my hair (not just to get her clients back in as quickly as possible!), which I really appreciate.
A long bob, with icy balayage highlights

To check out their other client’s beautiful hair, visit them on Instagram (@stemsalon), and head to their website to book your appointment: I have only worked with Elizabeth (the owner), but I am sure all of their stylists are just as talented!

Feel free to ask any questions and email me at:


You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply Anna Oates April 24, 2017 at 9:51 am

    It looks so good! You did an amazing job choosing something well suited for you!

  • Leave a Reply