The rit­u­alised $300 rei­ki hair­cut that will realign body and soul

Anna Hart visits mystic beauty emporium Crystal Cave LA to report on the rise of the reiki haircut.

Thing is, when we get our hair cut, we’re not just ask­ing for a hair­cut,” says Andi Scar­bor­ough, in her soft Tex­an drawl, look­ing me right in the eye – via the salon mir­ror – and press­ing gen­tly on my fore­head – or solar plexus – with a deep exhale. As Andi explains, more often than not, we change our hair to mark, or invite, some sort of tran­si­tion. The end of a rela­tion­ship. The start of a new job. A change in sea­sons. Or per­haps we just feel a bit rub­bish and need a shake-up. But what­ev­er the rea­son, one thing is evi­dent: there is waaaay more hap­pen­ing here than just a hair­cut,” she says. 

I’m sit­ting on a faux fur rug in Andi’s pri­vate treat­ment room in the new­ly-con­se­crat­ed Crys­tal Cave LA on Ocean Park Place in San­ta Mon­i­ca. Opened in July 2019, the Crys­tal Cave is essen­tial­ly a cos­mic co-work­ing space for three of the most high-pow­ered, busi­ness-savvy and Insta­gram-adapt­ed ener­gy heal­ers in LA. Andi was already a high­ly suc­cess­ful hair­styl­ist when she decid­ed to enrol at the Uni­ver­si­ty of San­ta Mon­i­ca Spir­i­tu­al Psy­chol­o­gy pro­gramme. She took cours­es in breath-work, sound heal­ing, Shaman­ism, Mys­tic Chris­tian­i­ty and dream inter­pre­ta­tion. The more I learned the more I start­ed to feel that if I just focused on a client’s hair, I was only doing half a job,” she con­tin­ues, with a wry shrug. Even­tu­al­ly I began think­ing about how I could com­bine my two pas­sions: styling hair, and spir­i­tu­al healing.”

Andi’s treat­ments start at $111 for an express intu­itive drop-in, rei­ki, cus­tom-blend­ed masque and blowout” to $333 for the full Crown Works beau­ty cer­e­mo­ny with rit­u­alised hair­cut”, and she sees 2 – 3 cus­tomers a day three times a week, with a lengthy waitlist. 

In the room next door to Andi is Julie Poli­er (@julieciviellopolier), equal­ly in-demand for her unique shaman­ic facials, eas­ing ten­sion’ lines around the mouth by gen­tly releas­ing acu­pres­sure points from with­in the mouth. The third mem­ber of the Crys­tal Cave col­lab­o­ra­tive is Colleen McCann (@style_rituals), a New York fash­ion-styl­ist turned ener­gy heal­er and GOOP’s res­i­dent shaman. This stand­alone cot­tage is decked out in a win­ning blend of mil­len­ni­al-friend­ly rose gold and pas­tel-pink and shaman­ic insignia like dream­catch­ers and shards of amethyst and rose quartz, with crys­tal-infused water on tap cour­tesy of Gemwa­ter (gem​-water​.com), water bot­tles and carafes that promise to trans­form the qual­i­ty of every­day tap water with the vibra­tional ener­gy of gems”.

Colleen, Julie and Andi are pro­fes­sion­al­ly (and annoy­ing­ly) coy about their celebri­ty clien­tele, and their new premis­es are pur­pose­ful­ly under-the-radar. A dis­creet pink sign read­ing Crys­tal Cave’ in hand-paint­ed let­ter­ing dan­gles on a wood­en gate next to a painful­ly hip café, Love Cof­fee, where the scent of ara­bi­ca and car­damom hangs in the air, and you sus­pect serv­ing staff wouldn’t cope with a cus­tomer ask­ing for actu­al cow milk – not almond, macadamia or oat – in their latte. 

I’ll admit, in my Uber across town to this afflu­ent beach sub­urb of Los Ange­les, I was steel­ing myself for some Grade A hip­py bull­shit. I’d been sent Andi’s way by Colleen, who I met some years ago at a yoga retreat. Colleen is a bour­bon-drink­ing, burg­er-chow­ing and reas­sur­ing­ly plain-speak­ing ex-New York­er who swift­ly evis­cer­at­ed any of my pre­con­cep­tions about what a shaman’ might look and sound like. But a heal­ing hair­cut? With crys­tal combs? And a cer­e­mo­ny to say good­bye to my split ends? Real­ly? As my Uber sat in traf­fic, I start­ed regret­ting my deci­sion to give this a whirl.

All hair is dead any­way, right?” I silent­ly rant­ed at myself in the back of Alonso’s Prius. My hair doesn’t know or care if it’s being combed with a rose quartz or amethyst comb. It’s just HAIR. Dead, sun-fraz­zled, HAIR. And it’s going to be mas­sive­ly awk­ward with Colleen if this turns out to be a load of rubbish.”

There is plen­ty of cold, hard, earth­ly cash to be made from the celes­tial and mys­ti­cal realm, and a lot of it is chang­ing hands here in San­ta Monica.”

And, to be fair, in San­ta Mon­i­ca, it pays to have your bull­shit radar dialled up. There is plen­ty of cold, hard, earth­ly cash to be made from the celes­tial and mys­ti­cal realm, and a lot of it is chang­ing hands right here. On Sec­ond Street, a few hun­dred yards from the San­ta Mon­i­ca steps made famous by Sylvester Stal­lone in Rocky, every oth­er busi­ness is a hot barre stu­dio, a ver­ti­cal climb­ing cen­tre, an acai bowl and smooth­ie kitchen, or a med­i­ta­tion cen­tre. San­ta Mon­i­ca has always been home to well­ness war­riors, while Venice Beach had the hip­pies, and now, with the arrival of tech giants like Google, Hulu and Head­space (earn­ing San­ta Mon­i­ca the nick­name Sil­i­con Beach’) there is a whole new gen­er­a­tion of over­paid over-work­ers hell-bent on self-opti­mi­sa­tion’. In the Bul­let­proof Cafe, micro­dosed-up Google employ­ees pay $7 for a but­tery keto­genic cof­fee and oth­er carb-free treats that claim to deliv­er a lean body and a sharp mind. At Moon Juice, yogis file in after a vinyasa flow class at Yoga­works across the road, to spend $12 on a juice boost­ed’ with brain dust’, sex dust’ or beau­ty dust’, an adap­to­genic blend for what­ev­er ails them that morn­ing. It’s fair to say that San­ta Mon­i­ca, a self-obsessed neigh­bour­hood in an already self-obsessed city, is an incu­ba­tor for weird and won­der­ful lifestyle trends. 

Last year, Amer­i­cans spent $2.2 mil­lion on mys­ti­cal ser­vices,’ which spans tarot read­ings, psy­chic ser­vices, shaman­ism, aura pho­tog­ra­phy, astro­log­i­cal read­ings, spells and ener­gy heal­ing such as rei­ki. In March this year start-up founder Ross Clark launched Sanc­tu­ary, a new gen­er­a­tion astrol­o­gy app that offers on-demand con­sul­ta­tions with liv­ing, breath­ing astrologers. The ven­ture world is def­i­nite­ly now pay­ing atten­tion to every­thing that’s hap­pen­ing in med­i­ta­tion and well­ness and self-care,” says Clark. Can­ny entre­pre­neurs are wak­ing up to the fact that mil­len­ni­al con­sumers are will­ing to invest time and mon­ey in any­thing that, in Clark’s words, helps them under­stand both them­selves and fil­ter and work through all the chaos in the world.”

But Andi, a smart, smi­ley 30-some­thing urban emi­gre from Texas’s Bible Belt, makes short work of any cyn­i­cism, part­ly because she’s so open about the lengthy per­son­al jour­ney she took to get behind my chair. My moth­er, descend­ed from a line of tent revival­ists [Chris­t­ian wor­ship­pers], broke a Def Lep­pard [LP] over her knee at one point and called it the Devil’s music,” she says. Even­tu­al­ly, she was able to dodge Sun­day School and instead hang out at the local library, where she dis­cov­ered Wic­can texts and Tao te Ching tracts that she hid under her bed. It’s only in the past cou­ple of years that Andi’s fam­i­ly back home have got” what she does. It was a spe­cial moment to give my Luther­an Ger­man step­fa­ther chan­nelled books on Christ Con­scious­ness, and geek out with my mom on my fave mys­ti­cal pow­er-babe – Mary Mag­da­lene,” she says. Best of all, though was being invit­ed to do an Angel Card read­ing for my 90-year-old Nazarene grand­moth­er. She cried at the mes­sages that came through, and told me she was proud of me for hav­ing the courage to lis­ten to my own heart.” I realise that Andi had a much more chal­leng­ing spir­i­tu­al jour­ney to this pink treat­ment room in San­ta Mon­i­ca than I did. I just had to get in an Uber; Andi had to work through a strin­gent upbring­ing where she observed crooked faith heal­ers, bla­tant misog­y­ny and homo­pho­bia and hypocrisy.” 

Every crown chakra hair­cut with Andi takes between two and three hours and opens with a thor­ough con­sul­ta­tion and spir­i­tu­al once-over. She’s seen clients through bereave­ment, redun­dan­cy, divorce, chemother­a­py – but just as often, she sees clients at a place of trans­for­ma­tion­al ten­sion where they know there is some­thing they want to let go of, but they just can’t put their fin­ger on what it is.” When this hap­pens, Andi brings out her mag­ic toolk­it: ora­cle cards, crys­tals’ and oth­er div­ina­tion tools” like tun­ing forks, singing bowls and chimes. Andi has also made tools of her own: hand-carved crys­tal combs in amethyst, jade, galax­ite and lapis lazuli, priced at $200, and her own blend­ed scent­ed oils, each med­i­cin­ing to a dif­fer­ent chakra. 

We pull tarot cards, and I select the crys­tal comb I want to work with” today. As with all legit spir­i­tu­al prac­ti­tion­ers, these cos­mic props pri­mar­i­ly serve as cues for me to tell Andi sto­ries about my life, admit­ting that my work life is thrilling but chaot­ic, that con­stant trav­el­ling can get lone­ly, that I’m still a lit­tle bruised from leav­ing a long relationship.

To tell you the truth, I learn the most from my clients by their body lan­guage and how they wear their hair when they walk in the door,” says Andi. Her read­ing of me: crip­pling­ly empa­thet­ic and sen­si­tive, a lit­tle root­less, strong-willed and Sagit­tar­i­an as fuck, is spook­i­ly spot-on. On the side table next to my reclin­ing chair, Andi care­ful­ly lays out her hand­made crys­tal combs, self-blend­ed chakra clear­ing oils and tarot cards, along­side the more stan­dard salon para­pher­na­lia of scis­sors and bris­tle brush­es. Our hair is the one acces­so­ry we nev­er take off, and just like a hand­bag, it speaks a lot about our lifestyle and the way we get (or don’t get) our needs met.”

Andi runs her fin­gers gen­tly through my hair, regard­ing me in the mir­ror. I love your hair,” she beams, which is nice, because in the past I’ve had hair­dressers poke and prod at my hair like they’re look­ing for a lost wed­ding ring in their pet dog’s excre­ment, all build­ing up to a wrin­kle-nosed inquiry about what trav­es­ty of a sham­poo I could pos­si­bly be using to leave my hair so com­plete­ly dehydrated. 

Per­haps this is why I’m so hon­est with Andi when she asks how I feel about my hair, recent­ly red­ded-up from my nat­ur­al Irish straw­ber­ry blonde. Well, when I broke up with my ex, I told my hair­dress­er I want­ed to look more like Ygritte from Game of Thrones,” I mut­ter, blushing.

Won­der­ful!” says Andi, clear­ly delight­ed. I def­i­nite­ly see some­thing of the war­rior in you now, or a lioness. I think we can per­haps tap into your pow­er a bit more, bring in a lit­tle more fire.”


I have to admit, it’s lib­er­at­ing to be able to talk about my hair like it’s, well, sig­nif­i­cant. Because hair is sig­nif­i­cant. The process of talk­ing through what I want to bring into my life fills me with opti­mism. As Andi wash­es my hair, mas­sag­ing my scalp, I med­i­tate upon the lyrics, I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair,” and won­der if the cast of South Pacif­ic had chakra hair­cuts in mind. Watch­ing split ends fall to the floor while I con­sid­er the emo­tion­al bag­gage I want to let go of, is odd­ly cathar­tic. (Lat­er, Andi hands me these snip­pings in a paper enve­lope, with instruc­tions on how I can burn it, per­form­ing my own lit­tle dis­pa­cio’ rit­u­al at home).

When I looked into the anthro­pol­o­gy of hair rit­u­als, I realised that hair is treat­ed as cul­tur­al­ly and spir­i­tu­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant around the world, and hair rit­u­als and cer­e­mo­ny used to be com­mon­place,” Andi tells me. It’s only in our West­ern cul­ture that we’ve turned it into a chore to be squeezed into our lunch hour.” 

I can see that Andi’s chakra hair­cut – a cock­tail of ther­a­py, self-care and self-help, gar­nished with a bit of witchy mag­ic – isn’t so much a new offer­ing as a very old one, a return to the beau­ty rit­u­als we had before beau­ty became com­mod­i­fied, neat­ly sub­di­vid­ed and par­celled up. Before it was unjust­ly triv­i­alised and des­ig­nat­ed mere van­i­ty, a fem­i­nine indul­gence. As Andi points out: For many of us, styling our hair is the one small, semi-reg­u­lar act of self-care we prac­tice, and we can turn this into an oppor­tu­ni­ty for spir­i­tu­al and emo­tion­al heal­ing if we take the time to make it a beau­ti­ful ritual.” 

As she fin­ish­es my blowdry, I feel some­how lighter and more in-tune with my emo­tions. I’ll admit that I came here a cyn­ic but can’t deny that a few hours with Andi will leave me with much more than a killer hair cut. 


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