Featured STYLIST: Tallulah “Lulu” Marcelin


Last week, we caught up with Tallulah “Lulu” Marcelin, owner of Los Angeles hair spa I love lulu.  Though Lulu has more than 17 years of experience, she is a recent convert to natural hair. She understands the challenge of going natural and has dedicated her business to making this process easier for her clients. Learn more about her journey and new philosophies below.  


What is your background and how did you get started in hair care?

I grew up in Baltimore and North Carolina and later moved to Los Angeles. In high school, I always wanted to be nurse, but my mother insisted that I go to cosmetology school. I started as an assistant at a salon in North Carolina, and I eventually moved to Los Angeles.

What inspired you to open your own salon?

In California, many don’t wear a relaxer. I had a relaxer since my early teens and my hair was long and maintained, so I never looked at relaxing my hair as unhealthy.

But, coming to California, I decided to give natural hair a try, and I’ve been natural for 5 years now. I didn’t do the big chop. I kept my hair straight. I found out that natural hair is more work, and it’s work to wear my hair curly. So, as a professional, if I needed help, people that aren’t professional need help, and that’s what inspired me to create the concept of I love lulu.


What is the concept and specialty of I love lulu?

It’s raw, natural, healthy hair care. My model is to feed hair, steam hair, and grow hair. Most people want their hair to grow. This doesn’t mean that your hair has to be long and down your back, but if you treat your hair properly, you will have growth.

We also use a specific technique—washing, steaming, and applying less heat. We don’t comb the hair when it is wet, and we don’t use hooded hair dryers. We use a paddle brush while blow-drying your hair and straighten the hair at 340 degrees, which is 110 degrees less than the hottest point. If we feel your hair is not ready for the heat styling, we won’t do it so that we don’t compromise the health of your hair. Instead, we focus on the treatments and products.


How would you describe the environment at your salon?

Sometimes natural and organic can be intimidating, and I think of it as having a more fun and approachable natural and organic environment. I love lulu is a lighthearted place. I put on what I call neutral music and create a relaxed environment, so it’s more of a hair spa than a “salon.” 


Let’s talk about the hair care line sold in your hair spa.  

The I love lulu line is as close to natural as we can get. Sulfate free, paraben free, free of any harsh detergents and using only food-grade preservatives. I’m not opposed to fragrance, so we scent the product with essential oils. 

When you start your own line of products, unless you are going to manufacture it yourself, you will most likely work with an existing product company. You have to do a lot of testing and the product is not going to feel like traditional shampoos and conditioners, so you can’t expect the same. And, the process is long—it takes 12 to 18 months to develop the right product.

What do you want your clients to know about caring for their own hair?

Healthy hair starts with a clean scalp. A clean scalp isn’t always obvious. If you [gently] scrape your scalp with your finger and there is any white residue, your hair and scalp are not clean. That’s why we steam—it opens the hair cuticle. And, you need to shampoo about every 4 days.

My newest thing [for curls] is wetting (not shampooing) your hair everyday. Water is good for your hair. It softens the cuticle and helps your curl pattern. I use my product Shelly Jelly, named after my curly-haired sister, but I don’t use too much. Less is more when it comes to product. So, wet your hair, use a shampoo brush (not a wide tooth comb), use less product, and tie your hair up at night. Straighten your hair only on occasion.

To find out more about Lulu’s hair spa and products, and to see what Upswingers are saying, check out the I love lulu profile. 


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