First Hair in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn is one of my favorite beauty places, on either coast! Even though I used to talk about it often on my Los Angeles show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue, I hesitate to write about it because, selfishly, I don’t want it to get harder to get into than it already is. (But I know the secret times to go.)

Years ago, my friend Patti honked in front of my house there one evening, and when I went outside, she said, “Grab you purse and come on.” When I inquired where we were going, she answered, “To my hair place!”

I didn’t even need my hair blown at the time, but I went anyway, just to be a pal. Even though some people think I’m a control freak who has to be the one in charge, that’s only because I know few others who come up with entertaining activities. So, when I have a fun friend who knows what to do, I’m more than willing to go along.

First Hair is the one with the purple awning.

What I witnessed at First Hair made me go back there for myself the second my hair needed it. (And evermore!)

[Note: for the girls who live in Brooklyn, and know there are other places like this, please also know that I’m aware of them, as well. It’s just that I can’t imagine one better than this, and the reasons are forthcoming. For others, I do have to tell you that there are many hair places like this in that town, but I can’t vouch for any but First Hair.]

Okay, I’m going to give you the deets of what goes on there. They also do cuts, color, and whatever else your hair-style requires. They have a nail salon in the back, too. But the two main attractions are the blow-outs and the shampoos. Yes—the shampoos!!! In all my years of going to upscale salons, I’ve never encountered anything like it.

[Sidebar: I know that “blow-dry bars” have popped-up all over Los Angeles in the past few years, and, I swear, I think that I’m responsible! I used to talk about First Hair on my show all the time, and said I wanted to open one like it here in LA. Well, wouldn’t you know that the first one showed-up here within a year! I don’t think it’s a coincidence. But they’re all nothing compared to the ones on 86th Street in Brooklyn!]

Okay, here’s the experience: You go in, put on a smock, and then lie down, (yup, that is correct—lie down,) with your head in an almost-flat stone sink. There’s none of that usual discomfort of hurting your back trying to get your head back without your feet lying out, too! Or the pain of the edge of the sink digging into your neck.

I’m sure all the shampooers are fabulous, but none moreso than Winnie and Jamie. (I hate pointing others in their direction, but I have to give props where they’re deserved.)

This is no ordinary shampoo. No–it’s a spa experience! Right there in Bensonhurst! They not only shampoo and condition your hair, but depending on who you get, they also massage your neck, shoulders, upper back, and forehead!!! And not just for a second, either. Each shampoo lasts about fifteen minutes! Sometimes more! (I won’t even tell you how much time Jamie gave me last month!)

John working on a gorgeous head of hair. Photo by Sheila Tracy.

John working on a gorgeous head of hair. Photo by Sheila Tracy.

Then, if you’re coherent enough to make it to your stylist’s chair, you get your hair blown. My guy is John, who’s like a magician with the blow-dryers! He uses two small ones in one hand! And even my waist-length hair is done in about ten minutes. He’s amazing.

And what’s the cost of all this luxury and beauty? I’ll let you calculate it for a second. Ready? I’ve asked other hair pros what they think, and some have come up with $200., while others have realized I wouldn’t be happily telling them about it unless it’s a bargain, so they guess $50. They’re all wrong because the average cost at First Hair is $12.!!! They always feel bad telling me that because I have “enough hair for ten people,” (knock on wood,) they have to charge me more–$16.!!! [Note to First Hair—please don’t change your prices if you’re reading this! At least, not for me!] [Note #2: sorry about all the exclamation points, but they’re necessary for this revelation.]

One more note about John: on my recent trip, I let him in on the fact that I had just cut my own bangs, and not that well. He showed me that they didn’t even start in the correct place, and re-did the whole shebang for me, gratis! They looked gorgeous. I was in New York for so long that they grew in great, but too long for me to see through. I won’t go into detail, but when I was out of town for a couple of days, someone, who shall remain unidentified, cut them too short, and made a disaster out of the sides of them, too. It was pitiful.

When I went back to see John the next week, I embarrassedly showed him what had happened, not expecting him to do anything but shake his head. I couldn’t see any way they could be fixed without waiting at least a month for them to grow in. Without skipping a beat, he fixed them!!! Perfectly! Mr. X and I are still marveling over them!

And in doing so, John made my whole look better! I don’t even know if he knows what he did, but people are telling me I look great again, without knowing what it is. It’s the shape of my bangs! Trust me.

So, when my several-a-year trips to New York come to an end (which will, very sadly, be sooner rather than later,) what I’ll miss more than even Nathan’s hot dogs and the incredible ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, will be going to First Hair. Or to be correct, walking out the door looking great.

Thanks John and company, for showing me what a hair salon experience should be! And, if ever you expand to the West Coast, please let me be the first to know!

2477 86th St. Brooklyn, New York ‎ 718-333-2188‬



  1. You and Patti are so much alike! (That’s a compliment, BTW.) Every word you wrote about First Hair is true!

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