Healthy Hairdresser

Debbie with the Flair: Do Good to Feel Good

Rosanne Ullman | March 12, 2015 | 7:15 PM

California hairdresser Debbie with the Flair, known more formally as Debra Nierenberg, finds that nutrition and exercise are not the only essentials to good health. The third piece is charity work. In addition to having her own business as part of a suites arrangement, Debbie is the volunteer hairdresser for Beauty Bus, a foundation that brings beauty services to both patients and caregivers.


“At first, I was scared to do Beauty Bus,” Debbie says. “They told us that we might have people who are very sick, with feeding tubes and other difficulties. I wanted to conquer my fear, and once I started doing their hair, it didn’t bother me.” In fact, this act of giving had just the opposite effect: it made Debbie feel great.


“I loved it right away,” Debbie continues. “When I go to the patients’ homes, no matter what’s going on in my life, the minute the patient opens the door, something comes over me. I get the biggest smile on my face and I say, ‘What are we going to do for you today?’ When you’re sick and you look in the mirror and see your hair beautifully coiffed, you feel like a million bucks. And when I leave the patient’s house, I feel like a million bucks, too.”


Debbie’s desire to make people feel good about themselves is the driving force between two other business endeavors. Along with helping clients to move, focus and lose weight, she markets a powdered shake by Qivana that she says is a full meal replacement. Her clients take it along when they travel, especially when they fly. She also markets a showerhead system that purifies shower water and removes the chlorine. “I notice that my clients who use the system, especially the redheads, maintain their color from visit to visit,” Debbie says.


Her own healthy living incorporates the same shakes she sells, along with green tea and a commitment to portion control. When she meets friends at a restaurant for breakfast, she immediately puts aside half the serving to save for lunch. With all of the chatting and eating, her half portion fills her up.


“I love life so much that, when I eat, I choose well and I savor,” Debbie explains. “If I want a donut, I have it, but I have only one. I love salads and sushi! Sunday night dinner is my favorite, because I make a ‘mishmash meal’ with whatever’s in my refrigerator, and I add spices. I bake veggies like cauliflower and brussels sprouts with a little olive oil or grapeseed oil.”


To stay fit, she walks her dog and takes Zumba classes. Debbie also says she takes good care of her skin by twice daily using a machine that exercises her face. “My skin is really taut,” she reports. “Also, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs and I rarely drink.”


Her work with Beauty Bus carries an extra benefit Debbie didn’t expect—gaining her new clients. The Beauty Bus services are offered to patients’ caregivers as well, and some of those caregivers have become Debbie’s clients. She also picks up clients who are drawn to her social media posts regarding her work with Beauty Bus.


“I think people like having a hairdresser who’s involved in the community,” Debbie observes. “I’ve never been in hairdressing for the money. It was always to make people feel good about themselves. When a client loves the style you gave her, you can see it in the bounce in her walk. I try to bring the best out of my clients through their hair—and I truly listen to my clients, not only about their hair but about their lives. When you really listen, you can get all the answers.”



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