S.A. stylist and Instagram sensation creates $2,000 makeovers – San Antonio Express-News

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Maggie Whitten shows off her colorful 28-inch hair extensions added to her hair by Patrick Garcia, a San Antonio hair stylist who specializes in hair extensions. Whitten spent more than six hours to have the extensions added to her own hair.
Patrick Garcia, a hair stylist who specializes in colorful, high-end hair extensions, works on his client, Maggie Whitten, at his salon. Whitten’s extensions are real human hair that’s been dyed and curled.
Maggie Whitten has had blue hair for nearly a decade. She discovered San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia on Instagram when she moved to San Antonio late last year.
Maggie Whitten smiles as she gets colorful extensions added to her hair by Patrick Garcia. Whitten spent more than six hours to have the extensions added to her own hair.
Haleigh Owens shows off her colorful hair extensions done by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia, who specializes in dynamic high-end extensions made of read hair, which he dyes and styles.
Maggie Whitten with her latest colorful hair extensions by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia.
Chelsea Gonzales shows off her colorful hair extensions done by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia.
Maggie Whitten has rocked mermaid blue hair for almost a decade. But whenever the self-proclaimed influencer wants to give her dyed locks an extra jolt, she turns to the electrifying hair extensions of San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia.
Whitten discovered Garcia’s work on Instagram at @isthatpat late last year when she moved to San Antonio from Portland, Oregon. She’s since sported several thousand dollars worth of Garcia’s waist-length hair wefts in blue topaz and neon green, hot pink and cool cranberry, and even indigo tinsel. Whitten spent most of a recent Friday at the studio Garcia rents at Sola Salons in the Galleria Oaks Shopping Center, just so that he and two assistant stylists could give her 28 inches of wavy aquamarine curls that cost about as much as a down payment on a new car.
Maggie Whitten gets colorful extensions added to her hair by San Antonio stylist, Patrick Garcia. Garcia uses only real human hair, which costs more than artificial hair but lasts longer and is better suited for coloring and styling. Whitten’s hair extensions alone run $3,000.
“Life is too short not to have fun hair,” Whitten said with a smile in the salon mirror as stylists Elizabeth Mendoza and James Tyler handed Garcia styling tools like technologists to a surgeon.
Garcia seconded Whitten’s remark with a toss of his own mane: “She just wants to be as extra as humanely possible. Nothing makes you happier than colorful hair.”
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For the past four years, Garcia has gone the extra mile when it comes to extra strands, specializing in only the finest human hair clip-ins, tape-ins, micro-links and weaves, which he colors with vibrant dyes and styles.
The results turn more than just his clients’ heads. Nearly 26,000 follow Garcia on Instagram, where the 26-year-old posts before-and-after shots of his clients that take them from ho-hum to hot damn. Stylists like what they see, too. Last year, the salon industry magazine Beauty Launchpad named Garcia one of its 30 Under 30. And earlier this month, one of his hair and makeup makeovers won Hot Shot Overall Transformation by BehindTheChair.com, the world’s largest online community for salon professionals with more than 600,000 members.
Elizabeth Mendoza shows off her colorful hair extensions done by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia. Mendoza started off as one of Garcia’s clients and now is a fellow stylist.
Most of Garcia’s hair extensions work looks like it was plucked from the heads of anime characters or peeled off the sides of hot rods. Fiery reds and oranges burst in the volcanic pigtails of friend and fellow stylist, Mendoza. Then there are those popping pinks, such as the cotton candy color he did for client Chelsea Gonzales. And there are the more subtle blonde and brunette ‘dos, such as the cherry chocolate hair and makeup work done on client Emily Bell that wowed BehindTheChair.com.
Mendoza has known Garcia since 2019. After graduating from Paul Mitchell Schools, she became one of his clients and began working alongside him. She joked how one time he dyed her hair a dusty green because he was inspired by succulents, then stressed that Garcia’s talent shows not only in how he matches the hair to the person but also to the personality.
“He can look at you and get a vibe of what you like with just a few minutes of conversation, with just a few minutes of getting to know your personality type and what will make you light up even more,” she said. “He likes to know about your lifestyle and what you do and he goes from there.”
“I’ve been doing hair for about 10 years,” said Tyler, who started working with Garcia in January. “As someone who has been in this industry for awhile, it’s inspiring to see somebody so young doing huge things and getting recognized for it in the way that he has.”
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Garcia has been styling hair since he was a 5-year-old trying to braid his babysitter. The Eagle Pass native grew up in Mexico, then moved to San Antonio in 2015 to study general cosmetology at Paul Mitchell Schools. He then opened his own studio, only to discover “I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for that,” he said, so instead he moved to a salon that specialized in hair colors and extensions.
San Antonio hair stylist Patrick Garcia (left) works on client Maggie Whitten with a little help from fellow stylist James Tyler (right) at Garcia’s rented studio at Sola Salons.
Garcia started focusing on hair extensions in 2018 when a desperate client turned to him for some much-needed hair triage. The client craved color but her hair was too damaged, so Garcia recommended colorful extensions.
“After that it just all blew up,” he said. “And here I am doing it almost every day. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Garcia said he takes most of his hair color inspirations from nature, especially beach sunsets, flower fields and rainbows after a stormy day. He stresses the importance of knowing the color wheel to ensure hues go well together, and uses such color theory to match or complement skin tones as well. And he only uses extensions with 100 percent human hair, which he then dyes to create all those crazy color combinations.
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That extra real hair does cost extra. Garcia noted Whitten’s extensions alone go for around $3,000 while all the color work and styling adds another $1,500. His average hair extension work runs $2,300 to $2,500 for hair, coloring and installation. He usually throws in the makeup work at no extra charge.
Whereas artificial hair extensions can wear out in as little as a month or two, human hair extensions can last anywhere from six months to a year. Garcia said most of his hair extension jobs last six to 10 weeks before needing a touch-up, while some styles can go for as long as four or five months.
Clients also should expect to spend plenty of time as well as money in Garcia’s salon chair. After an in-depth consultation, he often blocks out an entire day just to do a single client, which usually takes anywhere from six to eight hours but can sometimes go up to 12 hours.
“What is involved honestly is just patience,” he said.
San Antonio hair stylist Patrick Garcia shoots a photo of client Maggie Whitten with the colorful 28-inch hair extensions he added to her hair. Garcia has more than 25,000 followers on Instagram (@isthatpat), where he posts his dramatic before-and-after shots.
And compassion, too. The same day Whitten got her hair done, fellow client Sandra Garza swung by to show her support for Garcia as he was being photographed for this story. Garza has known him since 2017, about a year after she was diagnosed with alopecia, and she praised him for how he treated her just like any other client.
“He made me feel like I had a full head of hair when I met him. And that’s important,” she said.
Garcia said he’s leaning once again toward owning his own salon. In the meantime, he’s booked two months out. That means plenty of time for his clients’ hair but no time for his own, which suits him just fine.
“My hair is the least of my concerns,” Garcia said, then added with a laugh: “After doing everyone else’s hair, the last thing I want to do is get home and do my own.”
[email protected] | Twitter: @reneguz
René A. Guzman writes about geek and pop culture as well as consumer gadgets and technology. Before joining the Express-News in December 1998, the San Antonio native co-owned a college humor magazine named Bitter, for which he wrote, designed and edited, as well as distributed at various campuses and businesses citywide.