15 Shocking Stories From Real Celeb Hairstylists

ILLUSTRATED BY MALLORY HEYER.
Backstage at Fashion Week and awards shows, at their local salon, and on the sets of movies and music videos, hairstylists have seen and heard it all. Naturally, we want the dirt. So we asked top pros — Kim Kimble, Riawna Capri, Matt Fugate, and more — about their clients’ wildest behaviors and weirdest requests. Plus, we had to know about the hairstyling mistakes they’ve narrowly avoided. (Or, oops, didn’t.)

Ready? Listen up to their tell-alls about a hipster with a flair for beard beads; a flirty fiancé; a pain-in-the-butt B-lister; a sweet, generous, and particular client; and a big-haired millionaire who was straight-up dragged away by the police.

Disclaimer: These incredible stories are going to make you tip your own stylist extra well during your next visit.
1 of 16
Confession: I did a cut at a funeral home.

“I work with really high-profile people, so I have definitely done people's hair while they were in the shower, in bed, or on a massage table — the list can go on! When I was starting out, I assisted someone and her client [and friend's] mother died, so she had me go with her to the funeral home to get her ready for the funeral. That probably tops it all. She looked good. But that's probably not something I would do again.”

Lacy Redway
Advertisement
2 of 16
Confession: I talk pregnant women out of hair changes.

“Everybody knows about breakup hair makeovers — but there are also pregnancy hair-color and haircut makeovers. Women tend to make rash, emotional decisions when they're pregnant, and I have learned the hard way to say, ‘Absolutely not. I will not do anything that you're asking for right now until after you have the baby,’ and, sure enough, they don't ever want to do what they originally asked for.”

Riawna Capri
3 of 16
Confession: My boss called the cops on a client.

“I’ve been doing hair since the '90s, and back then there was this new generation of chemicals that was all about making the hair its smoothest (we’re talking way pre-Brazilian [blowout]). One of them was this cream perm with [an anti-curl ingredient] that was the first of its kind. It was a miracle product for women with curly hair — if their hair was healthy.

“At this time, I was working at a salon in Indianapolis, which had a lot of super-wealthy women from race-car-driving families. They were all very glamorous, but a little rough around the edges. So this girl pulls up in a crazy $200,000 sports car, walks in, and tells one of my fellow stylists, Michelle, that she wants the anti-curl. And she has the longest, most bleach-blond hair that I’ve ever seen. So Michelle is nervous and asks me to talk to the client. I politely tell her that because she has so much lightener in her hair, applying the product could damage her hair. She immediately thought it was about money, shouts: ‘But I can pay!’ And then proceeds to pull out of her handbag a bank stack of hundred-dollar bills, and put it on the counter. She's like, ‘I can pay whatever you want,’ and again, this is the '90s, so there was no way we charged more than $85 anyway.

“We told her it wasn’t about money, we just didn’t want her hair to fall out, but she was so angry. It escalated to the point where the owner of the salon had to call the police and have her escorted out. Michelle told me that day that she was quitting hairdressing.”

Nathaniel Hawkins
4 of 16
Confession: I have styled a hipster's beard.

“I once had a client ask me to bead his beard. That was the weirdest request. It was not on my menu… It was a house call — so I charged a lot.”

Kim Kimble
5 of 16
Confession: We need you to tell the truth — or your hair could suffer.

“In the early '90s, I was working in Scottsdale, Arizona. A client with heavily bleached hair wanted a perm just to give her hair some body. Back then, it was very common to combine these two treatments — you just had to ask certain questions before proceeding.

“So I ask her about what’s in her hair, etc. I apply the perm solution, confident that I knew her entire hair history. Then I check in and say, ‘Huh, it's not taking the perm at all.’ It should have happened very quickly. Two minutes longer, and her hair is still not taking the perm. She tells me, ‘My hair is really stubborn and takes a long time to get a perm in.’ Again, I believe what she’s telling me. I lean her back, apply a neutralizer, and everything is fine, then I rinse — and as the power of the hose meets the rods, I hear click, click, click.

“That’s the sound of the rods — with her hair on them! — breaking off and falling into the sink basin. I’m traumatized! She’s traumatized! Then she says, ‘Oh. I was nervous that was going to happen.’ And she starts to tell me all the other stuff that had been done to her hair that she chose not to tell me beforehand.

“A big lesson that you learn as a hairdresser is that clients remember their last service, but they don’t remember every service they’ve had in the past year or two — and that stuff is still on the hair, and will affect it. A seasoned hairdresser has a natural distrust towards any information a client shares about their hair.”

— Hawkins
6 of 16
Confession: Sometimes clients are gross.

“I had a client bring takeout to the salon, eat it while she was waiting for me, and then when she got in my chair, she threw the empty container on the ground. I was like, ‘Excuse me?!’”

Takisha Sturdivant-Drew
Advertisement
7 of 16
Confession: We care — a lot!

“I had a client whose sister was going through chemo, and she asked me to shave her head so that when she visited her sister, she would feel that solidarity. That was something that really touched my soul — to be able to do that. She was crying in my chair as I took it down with a razor. But interestingly, she’s kept it short ever since — it’s so funny, she rocks that crop, and says it’s her favorite haircut she’s ever had.”

Matt Fugate
8 of 16
Confession: Many famous people are nicer than almost famous people.

“My regular clients are some of the most famous, beautiful women in the world — and, fun fact: Talented people tend to be nice. But one day during last fashion season, I did an A-lister for shows in the morning, and had another booked for evening. Then midday I got strong-armed by my agent to do a B-lister who I didn't want to do. And that B-lister had me in tears about her hair. I kept trying to think to myself, Wait, I had so-and-so in the morning and so-and-so tonight, who use me all the time and love me — and who are real movie stars! This woman just worked every single nerve in my body. She made me feel like I wasn’t a capable hairdresser. Hairdressing is one of those jobs that defines you as a person, so having a bad interaction like that really affects you deeply and emotionally.”

— Hawkins
9 of 16
Confession: I was part of an engagement scavenger hunt.

“This guy was going to propose to his girlfriend at the end of a scavenger hunt, and she had no idea. My part was just to do her hair and then put her in a cab and send her off to the next place. When she was in my chair, I was asking her about her love life (like I do to all of my clients). I was like, ‘Oh, are you dating anybody?’ and she said, ‘No, I’m single…’ And I was like, ‘Really, not dating?’ and she says, ‘No, totally single.’ Then she batted her eyes at me in the mirror with a big smile. And I was like, Oh no, what do I do? Do I text this guy 'abort abort'? But I sent her on her way, and two or three hours later, I text her to see how she likes her blowout, and she texts back, ‘I’m engaged!!!’"

— Fugate
10 of 16
Confession: It's hard for us to tell the hard truth — but we're doing it for you!

“I wish people knew that being brutally honest is stressful! But I got to do it. I have clients who have been relaxing their hair so long that their hair stops growing and starts shedding. So I tell them they need to stop. They’ll say to me, ‘Well, I can't stop relaxing my hair because it's my lifestyle.’ A lot of my clients won't go natural because of their position at work — they feel like people will judge them. But I personally think natural hair is more accepted today than it was years ago.”

— Sturdivant-Drew
11 of 16
Confession: We have bad days, too!

“We cannot have a bad day. First and foremost, we always have to be on. There's no way that someone wants to get their hair chopped off or go from brown to blond by somebody who is standing behind them who's having a bad day.

“No matter what goes on in our lives, we have to be on. We have to be happy; we have to be positive. They should give an acting course at beauty school. Also, me and [my business partner] Nikki [Lee] had to cut back our hours because we were on our feet too much — I can’t even tell you the number of spider and varicose veins happening here; it’s not pretty. My mom told me to get support hose, but I have yet to listen to her.”

— Capri
Advertisement
12 of 16
Confession: It's annoying when you don't do your homework.

“If I give a client a regimen to take home and do, it's very necessary. But nine times out of 10, they don’t do the extra work — say, putting their hair up at night, not using heat, not rolling it or clipping it like I showed them. They’re begging me to give them a certain style, and I’m trying to give them a routine that’s going to make that — and their life — easier. Sigh.”

— Kimble
13 of 16
Confession: I get uncomfortable when clients get the giggles.

“One of my clients is super-ticklish, so it gets weird — because she has to get her hair shampooed, and every time she's laughing and laughing. Every time. I’m like, Oh my god, can we just get through this?

— Sturdivant-Drew
14 of 16
Confession: We're inspired by all of our clients — but especially Bey.

“The proudest moments of my career have been working with Beyoncé, because when you work with someone like that you get to inspire hair trends. I love the new trends — like this big transition to natural hair that’s happening right now. But it’s not just about celebrity clients: I still have a salon because I just love doing hair.”

— Kimble
15 of 16
Confession: I let one client cut her own hair — but I still charge her.

“One of my favorite long-term clients had always booked the first two appointments with me on a Tuesday — so that we’d never be rushed. She liked to wash her hair with her shampoo and conditioner, and the haircut was usually me trimming the back to her specifications. Then we spent about 45 minutes with me standing in front of her, leaning against my station, while she used my comb and my razor and literally cut her own hair with my verbal assistance. There was a systematic and constant conversation about every single layer. It took a long time and was very unusual, but she was happy and she sent me a lot of (less particular) clients.”

— Hawkins
16 of 16
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Advertisement