Like many San Francisco transplants, Joseph Cozza came to the city for a visit and accidentally found his destiny. “I moved here after visiting friends and, of course, fell in love with the people, the sunshine, and the opportunities,” says the native New Yorker. After graduating from the Marinello School of Beauty in 1984, Cozza followed his passion for cosmetology, learning the ins and outs of hair cutting and coloring techniques at industry institutions like Clairol, Wella, L’Oreal and Bumble and bumble.
All that education eventually fueled entrepreneurial ambition — almost a decade after becoming an established stylist, Cozza launched his own salon housed inside one of SF’s most iconic shopping destinations. “I was aware that Gump’s was updating their brand and opening in a new location,” Cozza recalls. “I had an idea that a salon would be a smart addition for their store, like many high-end boutique stores have in New York. My vision was for my clients to visit this luxury store as part of their experience of coming to my salon. It was an instant success.”
But the success didn’t stop there. Joseph Cozza salon remained a Gump’s staple until 2010 when its eponymous founder set up shop in a 3,900-square-foot space at 77 Maiden Lane. Today, the salon boasts an impressive roster of hair stylists, colorists, manicurists and estheticians. We asked the man behind the brand to reveal some of his best-kept secrets for head-turning hair.
Beauty blunder. At one point or another, just about everyone has suffered the shame of too-short bangs, an unfortunate bowl cut, or an accidental color catastrophe. But what’s the number one mistake Cozza sees men and women make? “Staying with the same look too long. And for hair care: Not listening how to use the styling products properly.”
Defining your style. So how does one go about choosing the most flattering cut and color? Does face shape really play a role? Are pixie cuts reserved solely for dainty Hollywood ingenues? Does Pinterest hold all the answers? “My consultation is the most important tool I use for achieving a customized look,” Cozza says. “I’m a great listener and I ask many questions related to the cut, the condition, and my client’s styling regimes. Photos also do help as a visual aid for both men and women.” So start Pinning.
Starstruck. It’s not exactly news that celebrities inspire hair (and face and body) envy, but they can also serve as great motivation for switching up your mane. Cozza’s pick for best male hair? “Matt Bomer — he can run his fingers through his hair and have it look perfect every time.” And the stylist has two favorites for coiffed female: “Drew Barrymore takes risks and can wear any cut, color, or style well. Also, Caroline Kennedy, because she has the amazing Kennedy hair.”
Fit and trim. Sometimes figuring out when to get a trim can feel like solving a mathematical equation. Cut the split ends now to ensure better growth down the road? Let the mane continue to thrive in its natural state? Cozza has some trimming guidelines: “Depending on the health of their hair, anywhere from four weeks to four months (for clients growing their hair),” he says. “However, most of my clients range between four to eight weeks.”
Effortless error. According to Cozza, some trends are better left untouched. “I have never been a fan of the ‘lazy,’ twisted, jaw-clipped hair used inappropriately,” he says. As for how he stays au courant: “I find inspiration in every new trend and I put my own spin on it.”
DIY dream. While anyone would love to have a glam team on call 24/7, sometimes long-term at-home maintenance is a must. Cozza has one simple tip for keeping tresses in top shape. “Condition, condition, condition,” he says. “Hair product manufacturers’ technology today works quicker than ever, and who doesn’t want shinier hair?
Crop top. This one’s for the dudes. If hair loss starts to become an issue, Cozza has some tips for maintaining killer confidence. “If a man is just starting to lose his hair, I tell him not to worry,” he says. “When it becomes annoyingly noticeable, I crop it short, I groom any frizz away, and I teach them to style it to avoid the dreaded comb over.”
ELEMENTS OF BEAUTY
While Cozza says he constantly tries new product lines to stay current, he has three go-to favorites he can’t get enough of. “Shu Uemura, Kerastase and Bumble and bumble are the products I cannot live without,” he says. “They are a well-rounded selection of products and unbeatable quality.” Here are a few of his favorite things:
Kerastase Densimorphose Mousse. “It makes hair look and feel thicker — good for most all hair types.”
Shu Uemura Fiber Lift Gel. “Clean, never sticky, great for both men and women.”
Shu Uemura Essence Absolue. “For smoothing frizz — it’s weightless.”
Bumble and bumble. Spray de Mode.“Flexible hold for all hair types.”
Bumble and bumble Surf. “Spray on damp or dry hair for beachy waves.”
Bumble and bumble Creme contour. “Works well for definition on short layers.”