L.A. V.S. London: How Our Hair Differs From City to City

Sure, we speak the same language, but women in L.A. and London are worlds apart. We live in completely different climates for one. L.A. women contend with 365 sunshine, whereas here in London we live in constant fear of bad weather ruining our look and constant hope that it will be sunny for more than half an hour. Our approach to fashion is different too, as plenty a celebrity has illustrated.

So how does our hair differ? As a Brit, born in London, I find myself looking across the channel to French women for inspiration. Despite being a beauty editor, I do not have curling tongs in my bathroom, and I have a long-distance relationship with my hairdresser, seeing her for a cut and color once (maybe two times for color) a year. Yet, when I went to L.A. late last November, I couldn’t move for a perfect wave and just-so ombré (sure, that color looked grown-out, but I swear it was dyed to look that way). Perfect hair, perfect weather—I’m not jealous (okay, maybe a bit). But I wanted to find out whether my suspicions were correct and to find out just how different (or similar) our hair habits really are. So when the Kardashian’s mane woman Jen Atkin was in town recently I sat down with her and Luke Hersheson, who has worked with Victoria Beckham and Sienna Miller, to talk transatlantic tresses.

Here’s what they had to say…

Kendall and Cara
David M. Benett / Contributor / Getty Images

BYRDIE: What’s the typical hair look in L.A. vs London?

JEN ATKIN: Typically in L.A., I mean, we wear our gym clothes all day; it’s lazy hair. Girls just wash and go; it’s not overly complicated. It used to be like L.A. was long extensions and curls, but I feel like now girls are doing shorter hair and letting it go. I feel like we live a lot in buns and ponytails because everyone is literally in gym clothes.

LUKE HERSHESON: The two have merged a lot over the past few years. In London, it used to be that no one would bother doing their hair; it was cooler to look like you hadn’t even touched your hair. Now I think L.A. has relaxed a bit more and we have pumped up a bit more…

JA: Huh! Maybe they like switched roles a little bit?

LH: Yeah I feel like it’s a bit closer; it’s merged a bit.

JA: I always imagine girls who do like crazy color, like I feel like girls are more daring when it comes to color and those kinds of trends. Whereas L.A. is just ombré; everyone is ombré, ombré, ombré.

LH: Well, I think London’s got like this history of doing things that are new but not always necessarily beautiful. So people are kind of happy to look a little bit weird or kooky, you know.

JA: Which is fun! I love it.

LH: Maybe other countries are a little bit more afraid, a bit more they’ll wait for their friends to do it, so maybe London has that, but it’s not always for its best beauty sake.

JA: But you look at the UK [and] you guys are definitely trendsetters. Like if you think back to the ’60s, and you think to the Vidal Sassoon days and what girls were doing back then, and the Spice Girls in ’90s.

LH: [Laughs].

JA: It’s still pretty iconic to this day.

LH: It’s always the ugly things then, that became great later on, I think.

JA: Because London is daring, like Vivienne Westwood, like the things that are just so out there.

LH: I think culturally, we’re so rich with amazing references that we can look to for our work, but I think sometimes when it happens it’s ugly to start with and it takes a while to refine.

JA: Although we had Paris Hilton. And Tara Reid; that never took off. That’s so mean.

BYRDIE: Which celebrities do women in L.A. and London ask for in the salon chair?

JA: In L.A. I get a lot of clients referencing ’90s models like Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista with the shorter hair. I get a lot of that; I also get some ’70s references like Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot—I still get pictures of them—and sometimes I get Claudia Schiffer from the Guess ads, a lot of girls like that.

LH: Really?

JA: Like, shaggy, long, long, long, hair.

LH: We get more Debbie Harry here, I think. We get Stevie Nicks a lot. Jane Birkin.

JA: Ooh, I love Stevie Nicks, that’s a good one.

LH: I mean, Bardot’s classically always good, right?

JA: Yeah, I feel like girls in the States aren’t as fun with like a fringe and layers as they are here. They’re more about long grown-out layers.

LH: Well, maybe that’s the daring Londoner?

Check out a visual look at Jen and Luke's hair inspirations.

Next up, the hairstyle Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid always ask Jen Atkin for.

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