National Hairstylist Appreciation Day: Candid Chat with 7 Global Celebrity Stylists

How they made it, what inspires them, and their biggest aha! moments.

April 25th is National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and after a year like 2020, it has never been clearer how much we depend on and appreciate our hairstylists. There to keep our strands looking fresh, talk us out of the temptation to get bangs, and fix botched at-home haircuts and color jobs, they really do the most.

In honor of Hairstylist Appreciation Day, we sat down with some of our favorite celebrity hairstylists to hear how they got their start and some of their funniest moments on the job.

These hairstylists are pioneers of the industry. They are some of the biggest trendsetters around, showcasing their talents on the runways around the world. From finding your inspiration to dealing with some real hair disasters (and the must-have products right now), read on to hear about their unique experiences.

Lacy Redway’s Advice to Young Professionals on Hairstylist Appreciation Day

lacy redway hairstylist appreciation day
Photo credit: Lacy Redway
Don’t be afraid to assist; you learn so much as an assistant. You learn how to navigate the industry, style hair for the various platforms, and different techniques and tricks you may not have learned in school.

1. Any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

I’ve been doing hair since I was a young girl. I practiced on my dolls growing up, and by the age of eleven, I was charging other students in my middle school $10-$15 to do their hair. During my junior year of High School, I found a platform where I began displaying my work. That increased my visibility, and women started traveling from as far as London to have me do their extensions.

I continued to practice my craft throughout college as I worked in a salon as a hair braider. I eventually went to get my hair license, where I learned to cut and color. Later on, I had the opportunity to assist various hair teams for Fashion Week.

I always wanted to find my own path, even while being an assistant. I continued to practice on my photoshoots to find my voice. An essential piece of advice I would give stylists trying to break into the global stage is to take their time if they want a lasting career; it doesn’t happen overnight.

Don’t be afraid to assist; you learn so much as an assistant. You learn how to navigate the industry, style hair for the various platforms, and different techniques and tricks you may not have learned in school. It’s essential to trust the process and understand that when preparation meets opportunity, you will be equipped with the right tools to succeed at it.

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

Much of my inspiration comes from things around me like culture, art, textiles, and stuff from my past. I think, subconsciously, I was first exposed to hair and styling techniques from my sister, who used to do my hair every Sunday in Jamaica. I love creating unconventional hairstyles on unexpected hair types and I love celebrating each person’s uniqueness in my chair; we collaborate to find the best version of the desired hairstyle to suit their personality.

3. What’s the funniest experience you had with a client?

My son is my favorite client. During the lockdown, with fewer in-person events to style for, my son and I spent lots of time reading or making up stories together as I would twist his hair. I love teaching him that the hair on his head is a crown.

I also love photoshoots as they are a playground for me to showcase fantasy hairstyles. And I love working as an editorial stylist while still getting clients ready for big red carpet moments.

4. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

I love TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Cream which defines curls and waves and fights frizz with its buttery, humidity-resistant formula.

Oh, and for my curly-haired women, the Nexxus Curl Define Ultra-8 Pre-wash Treatment is an amazing product that achieves a soft slip for detangling before wash day.

Justine Marjan

overgrown hair Justine marjan
JustineMarjan.com
The more you are willing to learn, the more you can grow!

1. Any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

My advice would be to reach out to stylists who are doing what you want to be doing and see if there are opportunities to assist them. Listen to podcasts from people you admire and be hungry for knowledge. The more you are willing to learn, the more you can grow!

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

I love beauty, art, fashion, and seeing them all come together to create something beautiful. More than anything, I love seeing the confidence that hair can play in a woman’s self-esteem and love being a part of that process.

3. Any disasters in your career?

I wouldn’t call anything a disaster, but there have definitely been challenges. One of the things I’ve learned is to be prepared for anything. One time I had to get off a flight and go directly to a shoot and my hairspray exploded in my luggage! Hairspray is the one product I depend on the most and I had to do eight looks without it. My advice would be to go with the flow and learn how to improvise under pressure.

4. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

Hairspray! I love the Tresemme Tres Two Extra Hold Hairspray.

Renée Valerie and Hairstylist Appreciation Day

hairstylist appreciation day renee
Photo credit: Instagram.com/renee.valerie
I tend to be a glass-half-full type of person so I don’t focus on anything as a disaster more of a learning experience.

1. Any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

I am very grateful for all the opportunities and travel I have experienced in the last 20 years of being in the industry but I think the most important thing to remember is that we should be forever setting new goals and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. We are continually growing and evolving as creatives. Always have your student hat on and the sky is the limit.

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

The endless options that you are able to create and customize on whoever sits in your chair are what I love the most! There are also so many options on where you can take your career within the industry which is great, so if you are ever feeling uninspired you can always pivot your focus.

3. Any disasters in your career?

I tend to be a glass-half-full type of person so I don’t focus on anything as a disaster more of a learning experience.

4. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

The most important thing, in my opinion, is a good shampoo and conditioner! Think of it as if you color your hair a way to “protect your investment” my go-to most recommended is TIGI Copyright Custom Care Colour Shampoo and Conditioner.

Bailey Pope

Bailey pope ponytail ombre
Photo credit: Instagram.com/baileybeepope
I was doing a men’s cut on a regular of mine, using the scissor-over-comb technique around his ears. He was talking when I suddenly cut off a small part of the top of his ear! He didn’t even stop talking because it happened so fast. I saw what had happened and had to interrupt him to let him know.

1. Any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

Soon after leaving beauty school, I decided I wanted to be a platform artist and educator. I signed up to be a “TIGI Ambassador”, which was my foot in the door. I wanted to get as involved as possible. So, I flew myself to Los Angeles to go to the ISSE Hair show and I volunteered with the team for the whole weekend.

Two months later, I did the same thing in Chicago at ABS and two months later at Premiere Orlando. I had to choose between paying my rent and buying a plane ticket, but it’s the way I was able to show that I’m worth investing in. So, the best advice I can give is to just SHOW UP and work harder than anyone else.

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

Hair (and fashion in general) is just like any other artistic medium but it also involves a connection with people in a different way. It allows you to express yourself while also helping your clients express themselves through the finished product.

3. What’s the funniest experience you’ve had with a client?

In 2006, I had just moved from Los Angeles to Kansas City, Missouri. The salon I was in had a color line I wasn’t familiar with. One of my first new clients wanted platinum and red chunky highlights (don’t judge – It was 2006!). As careful as I was, the red bled while washing and she ended up with bubblegum pink and red instead! To this day, I can see the booking in my schedule book for the next day “Colleen – Pink Removal”. She ended up being one of my favorite clients until I moved away.

4. Any disasters in your career?

I was doing a men’s cut on a regular of mine, using the scissor-over-comb technique around his ears. He was talking when I suddenly cut off a small part of the top of his ear! He didn’t even stop talking because it happened so fast. I saw what had happened and had to interrupt him to let him know. We had to treat it and he was okay. I comped him obviously, but every time he came back after that, he’d say “A little off the top, a little off the sides, don’t touch the ears.”

5. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

My absolute go-to is Bedhead After Party Smoothing Cream! It’s perfect for frizz control and definition on dry hair or left to airdry in damp hair.

Pedro Rosario’s Take On Hairstylist Appreciation Day

Pedro Rosario headshot
Photo credit: Pedro Rosario
The real icing on the cake is that because of a pair of scissors and a set of clippers, I’ve been able to travel and cut hair across the country and that’s pretty cool.

1. Any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

A bit of luck along with a lot of preparation is the short answer. Staying focused yet very humble, networking with as many different peers doing work on stage, with brands, educators, etc., and taking full advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. One after the other, I got a decent amount of exposure in a short amount of time. Before I knew it, the grooming industry became a way to go to places some would only dream of.

I’ve been lucky enough to connect with people from all walks of life and they left a piece of themselves with me and I a piece of myself with them. It’s inspiring to know that I’ve created a lifetime of connections with people because of a haircut. From people that don’t have a place to stay to billionaires. The real icing on the cake is that because of a pair of scissors and a set of clippers, I’ve been able to travel and cut hair across the country and that’s pretty cool.

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

Inspiration comes about a few different ways. When people ask me what I do for a living I say, “Well a lot of things.” Mostly I say, “I’m in the business of making people feel their best.” Who doesn’t want an escape in their day for 30 minutes to an hour? Who doesn’t feel amazing after a great haircut? To the point that you’re looking at the reflection of storefront glass when you pass to check yourself out.

3. What’s the funniest experience you had with a client?

I don’t know about funny but this is a pretty cool one for bragging rights if I do say so. In 2016, I had a client who I consider a friend now that was really well connected. He needed a last-minute haircut because he said he was going to visit the White House. Sarcastically I said, “You’re not going to the White House, you’re making that up.”

He said, “No, really, I’m going to the White House, I go often.” Then he said, “as a matter of fact, would you like to go? They are having a special event coming next month…I think you’d be a good fit.” I said, “Sure,” not taking it too seriously because that couldn’t possibly be a real invite. He said, “Give me all of your info and if they like what they see they’ll reach out and that means you’re going.”

About three weeks later, I got an email from The White House requesting a background check for security clearance with the Secret Service. Shortly after, I’m on a train to D.C to enjoy a life-changing day at the White House with President Obama and a variety of fascinating people. True story!

4. Any disasters in your career?

Yes but not many, so I’m thankful. I was asked to do a haircut for a very influential person. Someone with high energy that talks with his hands and moves his head a lot. It was a simple haircut until the clipper guard popped off when he suddenly moved his head back fast while talking and I made a half-inch bald spot behind his ear. I caught the guard before it could land on the floor so it wasn’t obvious.

To make the situation even more intense, his partner was analyzing my work the entire time but happened to be sitting at an angle so it slipped by him without noticing. I kept my cool under pressure as I’ve learned to do and I proceeded to act as if everything was fine and that what I was doing was totally intentional. Luckily it was in an area that I could go dramatically shorter so I didn’t look like a complete fool.

5. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

If I have to make a recommendation without knowing the specific hair type, I’d recommend a quality conditioner every time. You could never go wrong with a warm water rinse and a great conditioner.

Marco Peña

hairstylist appreciation day marco
Photo credit: Instagram.com/Marco_hair_makeup
Each hair is unique, that is why I always establish a relationship with each type, taking into account their texture, condition, and accordingly decide the type of service needed.

1. In honor of Hairstylist Appreciation Day, can you share any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

In my particular case, success within beauty lies in the passion that I give to each of the projects in which I participate, in personalizing each of the clients and doing something very specific for each one of them. I am always thinking about how to do my job better every day.

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

Each hair is unique, that is why I always establish a relationship with each type, taking into account their texture, condition, and accordingly decide the type of service needed.

3. What’s the funniest experience you had with a client?

A very funny moment happened to me when I arrived at a meeting and suddenly I saw a client trying to hide from me because in those days she had gone to cut her hair with another hairdresser. When I had her in front of me she did not know what to do, it was very funny to hear her give me all kinds of arguments to justify her action!

4. Any disasters in your career?

Disastrous moments in my career as such I have not experienced, many challenging moments I have had, but the fact of being able to dominate the situation and be able to focus on doing the job to the best of my ability has made me achieve a good result! Never letting myself be overcome by fear it’s my best tool.

5. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

Each person must have in their bathroom a hair care line according to their hair. We usually buy them without knowing what type of hair we have, so I recommend asking your stylist about the characteristics of your hair.

The product that I recommend everyone to have the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum at home!

Leonardo Rocco

Leo Rocco
Photo Credit: Leonardo Rocco
My advice is that you do not stop studying, training, seeing what other stylists do, and opening your head to receive and understand everything new that is coming into our beautiful profession. And of course, never stop going after your dreams!

1. Any advice for stylists trying to break into the global stage?

The most important thing is to train permanently. After studying with my father and in my country Argentina, I traveled to Europe to continue receiving the necessary education to create my own style and be connected with the best in the world. My advice is that you do not stop studying, training, seeing what other stylists do, and opening your head to receive and understand everything new that is coming into our beautiful profession. And of course, never stop going after your dreams!

2. What’s the thing about hair that inspires and motivates you?

As an artist, I love working with hair; it is the material with which I can create, transform, capture my ideas, whether with color, cut or hairstyles. It is a great motivation to see the before and after, see how we can transform people, and help raise their self-esteem. I love enhancing the beauty of each person. Get the energy of the beauty that we all have inside.

3. What’s the funniest experience you had with a client?

A few years ago with the singer and actress Anahí, from the Mexican musical group RBD. She was on a promotional tour of Miami, and I had already styled her on several occasions. On that occasion, she wanted me to change her hair extensions, but it had to be when she finished her commitments with the label. In the end, we started at 9 pm.

I didn’t know that I had to take out 300 extensions and then put the 300 new ones, one by one! A very long job because she also wanted only me to take care of her; usually, a head carries between 100 to 120 individual extensions. So the hours passed, and the paparazzi waiting and did not understand what was happening. It was 11 pm, 12 am, 1 am, and they couldn’t believe it. Until at 3 am they couldn’t take it anymore and left. We were laughing at what they would be thinking about the makeover! After a while, we finished everything, with the cut and hairstyle included. It was spectacular, but for not waiting another half hour, the photographers missed it!

4. Any disasters in your career?

The beginnings are always tough. The good thing is that when I practiced, I did it with my friends, and they didn’t say anything, but I left several holes in more than one head. My dad was always supporting me, encouraging me, and teaching me to correct mistakes. We still laugh with my friends when we remember those times.

5. What’s the hair product every client should have at home?

The products that you cannot miss and are the hair care ones. For me, are the new Dove Hair Therapy Breakage Remedy Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner if you have brittle and significantly damaged hair. This system will leave you with dreamy hair!

Thank you, Justine, MarcoReneé, BaileyPedro, Lacy, and Leo Rocco for sharing their experiences with us in honor of Hairstylist Appreciation Day!

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