In many ways, hairstylists are the unsung heroes of our everyday lives. Oh sure, it’s their job to see us leave the chair happier—and more stylish—than when we sat down. But other than heartfelt thanks and a generous tip, their considerable contributions to people’s self-esteem too often go unrewarded.

Well, Keratin Complex® wanted to change all that by singing the praises—loudly—of our most talented pros. We introduced our Unmask a Hero contest earlier this year, asking stylists to “reveal their inner artist” by submitting before-and-after photos of their best work using Keratin Complex products.

And we are thrilled to reveal the top two winners of Round 1 of the contest, which concluded in May. (Runners up will be featured in a future post.) The grand prize goes to Diana Arvizu of Newport Beach, CA; and second place goes to Carleigh Niedzwiedz of Erving, MA.

“We literally combed through thousands of great submissions,” says Keratin Complex PR Director Ivie Richman, who headed up the selection committee. “There were so many impressive looks that we had a hard time narrowing it down. But Diana and Carleigh both really stood out for their exceptional work using our Color Therapy™ professional hair color to achieve stunning results!”

Below are details of the winning Unmask a Hero looks.


Diana Arvizu

The artist: Diana Arvizu

The salon: Salon Platinum, Aliso Viejo, CA

The service: Base and glaze with KeraHold® Keratin-Enhanced Permanent Crème Hair Color; balayage with It’s a Blonde Thing™ Keratin Lightening System®; blow-dry and flat iron.

The story: Diana’s head-turning transformation shown below truly deserved a first-place finish. The styling veteran of nine years has been applying red hair color to her regular client Grace for several years. Grace came in with a deeper, cooler red, “and she wanted to transition to copper, warmer reds,” Diana says.

So, Diana applied a base of KeraHold light copper gold blonde with copper intensifier, then balayaged with It’s a Blonde Thing before glazing the head with lightest copper gold blonde.

Explains Diana: “I went with this formula and technique because it gives a softer grow-out and longevity. She can enjoy her hair at every stage. As it gets closer to her next visit, the balayage pieces go to coppery/strawberry blonde and it still flows very well with everything else because it’s within the same color family.”

The client’s reaction? “She loved her hair, and you could see the confidence that came out of her. She kept looking in the mirror and putting her hands through her hair!” Diana says.

Color Therapy prizewinner

Photo: d_hairmakeup

The entry: Diana, who uses Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy and Color Therapy on “90 percent” of her clients, was checking out our Instagram feed between clients. “I saw a post about the contest,” she recalls. “I had just done Grace’s hair the day before and happened to have before-and-after photos, so I decided to give it a shot.”

The award: For her efforts, Diana won a paid trip to Premiere Orlando 2016 and a five-minute presentation of her winning look on the Keratin Complex stage. In addition, she will receive $250 in cash and a gift bag of Keratin Complex products valued at over $500.

The reaction: When she found out she won, she says: “I literally screamed and my husband thought something bad had happened. I couldn’t believe it! I kept refreshing my Instagram to make sure it was really me.”

But it was real, and so was her post in response: “Super stoked I won 1st place for @keratincomplex contest … looks like I’m packing my stuff and going to Orlando!”


Carleigh Niedzwiedz

The artist: Carleigh Niedzwiedz

The salon: Designs by Carleigh at Transitions Hair Salon, Greenfield, MA

The service: Cut; pre-lightening with It’s a Blonde Thing; glaze with Demi-Glaze; blow-dry and flat iron.

The story: Carleigh, who has 10 years’ experience as a stylist and is also a Keratin Complex educator, did the below work on her client and good friend Emma—a young woman with a very active lifestyle and adventurous spirit.

Explains Carleigh: “Emma snowboards during the winter—winning contests and working at a well-known resort near our home—and during the summers is a whitewater raft guide. We always have fun with her hair color and cuts; she likes change as much as I do!”

The day that Carleigh did the winning transformation, she says that all Emma requested was to cut off a good amount of length, and that the rest was up to her. “For some crazy reason, I could not get the idea of a rusty rose pink out of my head,” Carleigh recalls.

So, Carleigh trimmed Emma’s hair, then pre-lightened it in foils with It’s a Blonde Thing. After cleansing with Keratin Complex Keratin Color Care Shampoo, she glazed the whole head with Demi-Glaze in ultra-light violet blonde. Next, a cocktail of Infusion Keratin Replenisher and Vita Volume Boosting Foam was applied before Emma’s hair was blow-dried and flat-ironed for a smooth, shiny and colorful finish.

“She absolutely loved it!” reports Carleigh. “It was fun, fresh, and she totally rocked it.”

Photo: @c_niedzwiedz_hair_design

The entry: Carleigh found out about the contest during educator training at Keratin Complex headquarters. “I was intrigued and figured, why not? I love the product line, it’s all I use, and I truly believe in all that is Keratin Complex!”

The award: Carleigh will receive $250 in cash and a $500 Keratin Complex gift bag.

The reaction: She found out she won while scrolling through Instagram for hairstyling inspiration. She saw her post on the #unmaskahero feed with a comment announcing she had won second place. “That was such an awesome moment,” Carleigh says. “I work really hard every day, work long nights and I’m constantly trying to learn. It felt amazing to see all my hard work acknowledged!”

Congratulations, ladies! Your recognition as our first two superheroes unmasked is well-deserved. In future entries, we’ll give details on the looks that earned runner-up status.

And stylists, remember that the contest is still going strong. Our next round has already started and goes until July 1! So keep those submissions coming … #unmaskahero