South African stylist and Instagram sensation creates $2,000 makeovers

Maggie Whitten has been rocking mermaid blue hair for nearly a decade. But whenever the self-proclaimed influencer wants to give her colorful locks an extra boost, she turns to electrifying hair extensions from 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 worn several thousand dollars worth of hair wefts up to Garcia’s waist in blue topaz and neon green, hot pink and cool cranberry, and even indigo garlands. Whitten spent most of a recent Friday at the studio that Garcia rents at Sola Salons in the Galleria Oaks mall, just so he and two styling assistants could give her 28 inches of wavy aquamarine curls that cost about as much. than a down payment on a new car.

Maggie Whitten gets colored extensions added to her hair by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia. Garcia only uses 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 cost $3,000.

Kin Man Hui/staff photographer

“Life’s 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 backed up Whitten’s remark with a throw of her own mane: “She just wants to be as extra as humanly possible. Nothing makes you happier than colored hair.

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Over the past four years, Garcia has gone the extra mile when it comes to extra highlights, specializing in only the finest clip-ins, tape-ins, micro-ties and human hair weaves, which he colors with dyes and vibrant styles.

The results turn more than the heads of his clients. Nearly 26,000 people follow Garcia on Instagram, where the 26-year-old posts before and after photos of his clients that take them from ho-hum to hot damn. Stylists also like what they see. Last year, salon industry magazine Beauty Launchpad named Garcia one of its 30 under 30s. more than 600,000 members.

Elizabeth Mendoza shows off her colorful hair extensions done by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia.  Mendoza started out as one of Garcia's clients and is now a fellow stylist.

Elizabeth Mendoza shows off her colorful hair extensions done by San Antonio stylist Patrick Garcia. Mendoza started out as one of Garcia’s clients and is now a fellow stylist.

Courtesy of Patrick Garcia

Most of Garcia’s hair extension work looks like it’s been ripped off the heads of anime characters or peeled off the sides of hot rods. Fiery reds and oranges burst in the volcanic braids of friend and fellow stylist Mendoza. Then there are those popping pinks, like the cotton candy color he did for client Chelsea Gonzales. And there are the more subtle blondes and brunettes, like the chocolate-cherry hair and makeup done on client Emily Bell that wooed BehindTheChair.com.

Mendoza has known Garcia since 2019. After graduating from Paul Mitchell Schools, she became one of his clients and started working alongside him. She joked that he once dyed his hair dusty green because he was inspired by succulents, then pointed out that Garcia’s talent shows not only in the way he combines hair with the person but also to the personality.

“He can look at you and get an idea of ​​what you like in a few minutes of conversation, in just a few minutes to know your personality type and what will make you even brighter,” she said. “He likes to know your lifestyle and what you do and he takes it from there.”

“I’ve been doing hair for about 10 years,” said Tyler, who started working with Garcia in January. “As someone who’s been in this industry for a while, it’s inspiring to see someone so young do such huge things and be recognized for it like he has.”

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Garcia has been doing his hair since he was 5 and 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 find “I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for this,” he said, so he moved to a salon specializing in hair coloring and hair extensions.

San Antonio hairstylist Patrick Garcia (left) works on client Maggie Whitten with a little help from fellow stylist James Tyler (right) in Garcia's rented studio at Sola salons.

San Antonio hairstylist Patrick Garcia (left) works on client Maggie Whitten with a little help from fellow stylist James Tyler (right) in Garcia’s rented studio at Sola salons.

Kin Man Hui/staff photographer

Garcia started focusing on hair extensions in 2018 when a desperate client turned to him for some much-needed hair sorting. The client craved color but her hair was too damaged, so Garcia recommended colored extensions.

“After that, everything exploded,” he said. “And here, I do that almost every day. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Garcia said he gets most of his hair color inspiration from nature, especially beach sunsets, fields of flowers and rainbows after a stormy day. He emphasizes the importance of knowing the color wheel to ensure hues go well together, and uses this color theory to match or complement skin tones as well. And he only uses extensions with 100% human hair, which he then dyes to create all these crazy color combinations.

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This extra real hair costs more. Garcia noted that Whitten’s extensions alone cost around $3,000, while all the color work and styling adds an additional $1,500. Her average hair extension job costs between $2,300 and $2,500 for hair, coloring, and installation. He usually does the makeup work at no extra cost.

While 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 her hair extension jobs last six to 10 weeks before needing a touch-up, while some styles can last up to four or five months.

Customers should also expect to spend a lot of time and money in Garcia’s lounge chair. After a thorough consultation, he often blocks out an entire day just to do a single client, which usually takes six to eight hours but can sometimes go up to 12 hours.

“What’s at stake honestly is just patience,” he said.

San Antonio hairstylist Patrick Garcia snaps a photo of client Maggie Whitten with the 28-inch colored hair extensions he added to her hair.  Garcia has over 25,000 followers on Instagram (@isthatpat), where he posts his dramatic before and after photos.

San Antonio hairstylist Patrick Garcia snaps a photo of client Maggie Whitten with the 28-inch colored hair extensions he added to her hair. Garcia has over 25,000 followers on Instagram (@isthatpat), where he posts his dramatic before and after photos.

Kin Man Hui/staff photographer

And compassion too. The same day Whitten got her hair done, another client, Sandra Garza, dropped by to show her support for Garcia as he was photographed for this story. Garza has known him since 2017, about a year after he was diagnosed with alopecia, and she praised him for treating her like any other client.

“He made me feel like I had a head full of hair when I met him. And that’s important,” she said.

Garcia said he’s leaning toward owning his own salon again. In the meantime, he has reserved two months. That means a lot of time for her clients’ hair but no time for her own, which suits her just fine.

“My hair is the least of my worries,” Garcia said, before adding with a laugh, “After doing other people’s hair, the last thing I want to do is go home and do my own.”


[email protected] | Twitter: @reneguz



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