One 'lousy' salon

Thomas Levinson/Daily Journal Caterina Gonzalez, 3, receives her fourth delouse treatment from hair agent Paul Riccetti at Hair Spies in Burlingame.

Justine Tideman would be the first to admit that opening a hair salon specializing in head lice removal was not just some recurring pipe dream she had as a kid, but rather an actual cause-effect epiphany.

Justine was invigorated by her interactions with San Francisco-based salon Hair Fairies, but can thank the lice themselves for driving her to their front door. After burrowing into the scalps of the very entrepreneurs who now specialize in their eradication, Tideman and her two sisters, Ella Tideman and Amanda Riccetti, jointly opened the doors to their San Mateo County exclusive shop in early May, and have not looked back since.

"I still wouldn’t quit my day job,” smiled Justine Tideman, professional psychologist and co-founder of freshly opened hair lice salon, Hair Spies, tucked away in Fox Mall at 1419 Burlingame Ave., is small but bright and open with a handful of chairs where lice and their nits meet their end. These particular siblings may not be full-time, but they nevertheless spell disaster for the vermin.

"We have had 100 percent success removing head lice from our clients,” said sister Riccetti, whose background as a preschool teacher helps round out the salon’s family appeal. "The first week we were open, a school had an outbreak and parents and their children were very happy to have a head lice salon on the Peninsula to serve them.”

Ella Tideman, the trio’s artist, is responsible for the salons welcoming layout and design. Outfitted with numerous toys, portable DVD players and WiFi access throughout, Hair Spies happily occupies kids and their parents during the treatment sessions which, depending on hair length, can range from one to two hours.

Hair Spies’ safe, natural, three-stage treatment revolves around the thorough combing, shampooing and conditioning of an infested scalp. Unlike the putrid, toxic chemicals victims typically purchase over the counter, the Rosemary Repel shampoos and conditioners sold by Hair Spies smells pleasant, when combined with their in-house services, is 100 percent guaranteed. Removal at Hair Spies costs $100 per hour with $25 for every 15-minute increment thereafter. Long hair can take up to two hours.

Sympathetic with the degree of embarrassment that can come with contracting lice, Hair Spies will even advise customers with the products and procedures necessary for safe home treatment, yet cautions that the combing process must not be cursory.

Head lice outbreaks tend to be cyclical, falling during the summer season as children disperse from schools for vacation. Transmitted primarily by kids from ages of 3 to 11, the most effective way to avoid giving and receiving lice is to simply wear your hair up if long, and try to avoid close proximity to other’s heads.

"It’s an experience I wouldn’t even wish upon my enemies,” proclaimed satisfied customer Caroline, who preferred not to give her last name. Her family, with the exception of her bald husband, personally dealt with lice a month prior.

Caroline’s family was the first to receive Hair Spies munificent services weeks before the salon even opened for business. Ecstatic with the forthright advice and services, Caroline wasted little time in dispersing Hair Spies business cards throughout local San Jose Unified School District where her daughters caught the bug.

For more information about Hair Spies products and services, or to schedule an appointment, call them directly at 340-9000 or visit

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