Inside the Crazy Life of a Celebrity Hairstylist
When we see celebrities, they’re already perfectly groomed, manicured, and styled. Their outfits are pressed, their makeup is set, and their hair is holding about a pound of hair spray. What we don’t see, however, are the superstars behind the scenes. We were educated in the art of celebrity makeup artistry, and now we’re digging a little deeper into the lives of celebrity hairstylists.
While the advent of social media has allowed A-listers to more visibly call out those who primp them prior to a red carpet appearance—just like Bella Hadid and Bumble and Bumble's incredible global artistic director Laurent Philippon above—we’re more interested in the juicy stories and secret beauty tricks we have yet to hear about. Below, four incredible hairstylists who are responsible for the hair of Kim Kardashian West, Selena Gomez, Karlie Kloss, Reese Witherspoon, Blake Lively, and Mila Kunis (just to name a few) detail some of the craziest situations they’ve been put in—and how they colored, pinned, and styled hair flawlessly regardless. Keep reading for all the eye-widening details.
Who: Kari Hill, L’Oréal Paris Celebrity Colorist
On the stress of award season: “In a major rush on Oscars morning, I had to make one of the nominees (who was a winner!) blond from her current brown color. Aside from that being a totally crazy request, we accomplished it and succeeded! Being that I had to do it all on a house call, I didn’t have my arsenal of beauty products on hand. So when we were finished, my lovely blonde had a major stain on her skin around her hairline. She obviously needed it gone ASAP and didn’t have time for it to naturally fade off after a few days. So we had to use the ‘folklore’ antidote from the ’50s that I had heard of but never actually tried. We made an emulsion of an ashed cigarette and water! We rubbed it around her hairline, and voilà! It worked.”
On making the best of a movie set: “Being on a movie set definitely has its limitations, especially for coloring hair. I was in a situation where in the middle of the night, the trailer lost electricity and water. For one particular instance, we had to make half a wig, tuck the new growth of the actresses hair up—because by no means was she going to cut her hair back to what it was earlier in the year—and wig the top. When the water went out, we had to rinse bleach from her wig, and my assistant and I had to literally pump water through the trailer. We had to stand on the counter! This continued all night as once again I had to take an actress and her wig from blond to brown in a matter of hours.”
On setting trends: “When ‘America’s sweetheart’ asks you to color the underneath of her hair pink cause her daughter likes pink, you do it. But she’s also in the middle of shooting a movie where she needs to look rough (and I do her color to make it look like that). Every day of shooting, we had to completely pin it up and tuck it under so it was virtually invisible. Now it’s actually become a trend (ha!). Peekaboo Pink, I call it.”
Who: Matt Fugate, Kérastase Paris Consulting Hairstylist
On styling for the Met Gala: “One time, I was working on a very amazing girl whom I’ve become close to for a very important gala. We had an hour to do hair and makeup, but the makeup artist insisted on doing her makeup first and for me to do hair after. Knowing the client, I was not worried, and I always seemed to turn her hair out under pressure, but this time the makeup artist took the full hour to do her makeup, leaving me minutes to style her hair. She put on her dress, and I whipped her tresses up into a stunning woven bun that ended up stealing the show that night. Total time it took: maybe three to five minutes. I literally was walking with her to the car finalizing the pins.”
On keeping your cool in a time crunch: “In time-crunch situations, it’s important to trust your instincts. I’ve been very grateful to have been trained in a five-minute updo—and as long as you have a plan in mind, you can usually accomplish it. Also, it is smart to keep things simple in these cases. When under stress, it’s not time to take a risk and start trying to reinvent the wheel. As a stylist, I always have a couple go-tos (like a four-strand braid). Left alone, it is stunning and unique; wrapped into a chignon, it is perfection and even used in a trendy way still looks put together. Kérastase Elixir Ultime Bi-Phase Spray Oil ($58)—my secret weapon—and a great part can save you as well. Sometimes a clean part and a tuck behind the ear is all you need to turn a normal hairstyle into a statement.”
We spent the afternoon with #ManeMaster @georgepapanikolas while he colored these gorgeous ladies with his 5 must have colors of 2016! All of this work couldn’t have been done so effortlessly and in such a short timeframe without @itsmyMia by Sure Tint. Find us with SureTint at the ICA on April 17th!! Hope to see you there!
A video posted by Mane Addicts (@maneaddicts) on
Who: George Papanikolas, Matrix Style Link Celebrity Stylist
On working with Kim Kardashian West: “One of the most surprising and crazy days on the job was when I arrived at the Kardashians’ home to start the process of taking Kim blond using Matrix Light Master. As we entered, we were greeted by the camera crews all in place. As a hairstylist, we are more used to being behind the scenes, but I really just rolled out of bed—not camera ready. It ended up being a great day and a uniquely generous opportunity from Kim as people know our work and can recognize our signature looks, but we are rarely caught on camera creating them.”
Who: Lona Vigi, Nexxus New York Salon Care Celebrity Hairstylist
On dealing with unpredictable weather: “I was in Europe on a press tour, and I spent two hours in hair and makeup getting a client ready only to have it completely ruined by the rain. I mean, completely soaked! I had no hair dryer or tools and about two minutes to figure something out. Instead of panicking, I slicked it all back into a chic bun, sprayed her entire head with Nexxus New York Salon Care Frizz Defy Finishing Mist ($12), and she was ready to go!”
On living the phrase no pain, no gain: “One night, I spent five hours on a private jet removing a client’s individual permanent hair extensions without the proper tools and no light—while everyone slept around me. I could barely use my hands the next day they hurt so much.”
On working in bizarre circumstances: “I’ve had someone nod out repeatedly from too much partying while I was doing her hair. I’ve touched someone’s hair up while they were using the restroom because they were going live for a TV interview. I’ve stood on numerous chairs, toilet seats, and stools to finish the hair of all my tall clients while they’re in their heels and getting ready to walk out.”
Now read about the 10 things makeup artists always do (that you don’t).