In the latest installation of our curly hair series, we catch up with world famous hair stylist Stephanie Stevenson.
Stephanie runs a high-end hair salon in beautiful Sandbanks, Dorset, home to a host of British A-listers. She can often be found at runway fashion weeks and photo shoots, preparing hair for world-famous models, celebrities and actors.
Stephanie currently works with leading brands Marie Claire and Prostyles Hair. She has previously been the European Educator and QVC stylist for Jennifer Aniston’s multi award winning hair range Living Proof.
We spoke to Stephanie about curly hair, natural products and more…
Who has been your favourite celebrity to style?
So many celebs and over the years, so many fascinating people. I don’t have a favourite as such, but a couple of ‘Royals’ make my CV impressive!
What is the hottest hair trend at the moment?
Blonde blonde and blonder is literally everywhere, combined with waves and a more undone ‘done’, and a fresh editorial, more natural look is definitely hot right now.
You recently expressed a particular interest in styling curly hair. What is it about curly hair that captures your attention?
I love working with curly hair simply because each head of hair is so different!
Curl structures change from person to person. Fine curls, medium curls, soft curls, tight corkscrew curls all have a mind of their own. The lack of structure intrigues me and working with the hair to try and create movement that works is challenging in every case and scenario. That interests me – I enjoy having to work out the curl movement in order to create shape.
Why do you feel the movement for more natural hair is growing?
We lost the GHD straightener phenomena and moved to waves and curling tongs. This gave curly haired girls the power to say ‘I don’t have to curl my hair I have what you straight hair girls want naturally, so maybe I should try and leave my curls to be curly’. It’s taken off – curls are fashionable and having curly hair is cool now and that’s a fab thing for curly girls. Hair envy!
Do you treat curly hair differently to straight hair?
Oh my word – yes yes yes!!! Sooo differently.
Firstly, curls and frizz go hand in hand created by the structure of the cuticle, so if you wash your hair the same you will create frizz.
We never lather and massage curly hair into a frothy mess. We love no lather shampoos, we love co-washing and we literally squeeze the hair up and down the hair shaft. You should never move your hands in circular motions like you would with straight hair.
Never towel dry either. If you can’t just simply squeeze all the water out and leave to plop, then blot gently but never rub or create a friction, frizz loves friction!
Do you think the hair and beauty industry is starting to become more aware of client’s needs depending on their hair texture?
Yes for sure. We are all educating our apprentices more about structure and texture and how to differentiate your cutting and styling. One size styling just does not fit for different hair types, bespoke styling is the way forward. We have a curl module in our NVQ now too, which we never had before.
What is the best way to avoid damaging your hair?
Moisture moisture moisture. With curly hair, retaining moisture is the most difficult aspect and a curl requires spring in it to actually create a curl. Dry hair just won’t spring. Think of a dry twig – it snaps easily but a wet twig is quite hard to snap. Moisture is the holy grail of preventing damage, by using leave in conditioners or oils for example.
What is your opinion of natural hair products that are free from parabens, silicones and sulphates?
I love these.
SLS is sodium laurel sulphate – a lathering agent that is also found in Swarfega. This will strip moisture and as I’ve already said – moisture is key. So I’m a massive believer in using products free of all of the above.
Have you ever plopped?
We always plop! The curl is completely retained from the shower and the whole idea of not rubbing with a towel is just perfect for retaining the natural curl structure.
What do you think of DIY hair recipes?
I’m not a lover to be honest. I’ve visited MIT in Boston and met with Bob Langer, one of the worlds most decorated scientists. When you see the research that goes into some of these products there isn’t a DIY alive that can compete.
What is your number 1 recommend product for curly hair?
My go to favourite is Living Proof Curl. The Patented Healthy Hair Molecule (OFPMA) is an optimised blend of emollients and polymers. Time-release conditioners combine to repel humidity for strong frizz protection. It also provides residue-free cuticle smoothing for great curl definition and long-lasting hold.
Which hair products and tools are essential to your kit?
I have 3 suitcases full of kit and I can’t honestly say what my essentials are, as every single head of hair will require different tools and brushes etc. I suppose if I could only take 3 things it would be Living Proof No Frizz Spray, a Mason and Pearson hair brush and a box of bobby pins!
Which celebs curly hair would you like to style and why?
I love Nicole Kidmans curls and I wish she would wear her naturally more often – it’s stunning.
What was your favourite hair trend of 2017?
I love Balayage on all hair types and it really was everywhere in 2017!
Ribbons and bows are predicted to be the most popular hair accessories this year. What would be your favourite way to style hair with a bow?
I love braiding a ribbon through a powerful thick braid – that’s super cute.
What is your opinion of bond multiplier products, such as Olaplex?
I can’t live without Olaplex. It’s such a scientific breakthrough in repairing the keratin bonds in the cuticle – great for colouring hair but also superb for keeping curly hair in good health.
And finally, are you working on any exciting projects in the near future?
I’m working with Prostyles who have just launched BIG Hair. BIG hair is a curly range of clip-in hair extensions created by the Vogue model Freddie Harrel.
I’m also working with a new brand called Ecru New York, as well as Marie Claire in Paris – we are launching a whole new range called Marie Claire Hair that which will include tools, hairdryers, hairbrushes and extensions.
It’s a very exciting year for me in 2018!