These Pros Are Going To Change The Way You Do Your Hair

Photo: Courtesy of Buddy Porter.
Finding fresh hair ideas can be a tricky task — true hair masters are hard to find. They are passionate about the craft, constantly innovating, and dreaming up some of the coolest hairstyles around. And while big name stylists like Oribe, Jen Atkin, and Orlando Pita represent the top echelon of hair pros, there's a new guard of stylists making a name for themselves on Instagram and captivating young Hollywood with their signature styles.

That's why I set out to discover the stylists changing the hair game with their innovative ideas and new attitudes towards haircuts and styling. What I uncovered was everything from a stylist making art out of undercuts, an Atkin-trained braid guru, and the mastermind behind some of the most creatively styled locs in the business today.

In addition to learning their most buzzy coif creations, I also discovered how they honed their craft and gleaned some of their genius styling tips and product must-haves.

Keep clicking to meet the eight hairstylists who are transforming the way we do hair and how to achieve those gorgeous 'dos. With these fresh faces leading the pack, 2017 is shaping up to be one helluva year for hair.
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Photo: Courtesy of Justine Marjan.
Justine Marjan
Known For: Next-Level Braids

Justine Marjan
has quickly become THE braid guru for fashion’s elite, especially once hairstylist Jen Atkin (Marjan’s mentor) bestowed that moniker on her. But Marjan’s braid skills are just that: a skill that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Aside from being a great hairstylist in her own right, Marjan somehow constantly innovates with her braids, creating a fan club of celebs that includes Olivia Culpo, Kerry Washington, and, yes, the K-Jenners.

When asked about how she stays ahead of the plaiting pack, Marjan simply says, “There’s endless inspiration when it comes to braids. You can play with texture, product, and placement to make something unique and personalized. It’s always fun to think of new partings, to play with how much hair is added in, and how you can amp it up to create something different for the person wearing it.”

Now that she's generating major buzz, Marjan has since looked to her peers to constantly evolve and innovate; “Be inspired by your peers, instead of feeling competitive. There’s enough to go around for all of us to be successful and it’s important to lift up the people around you.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Johnny Spanakos.
Johnny Spanakos
Known For: Undercut Designs

Johnny Spanakos
isn’t your traditional hairstylist. While in hair school, he had the good fortune of being taught by Fern the Barber, a well-known West Coast barber. Spanakos was intrigued by his line-cutting technique and started to try it out on his own with some of his more fashion-forward clients. The result? Impossibly intricate undercut designs — and the rest is history. Now, the undercut art is one of Spanakos’ most-requested cuts.

The reason Spanakos can continue to surprise his clients is that he surprises himself with each cut. “I never plan it, so even if I have somebody who wants a total transformation, I won’t know what I’m going to do until about halfway through the haircut," he explains. "And that’s just the way I do things; that’s the way I feel my best."

And while hearing that mindset from other high-level stylists — who think they always know best — can feel arrogant, Spanakos charmingly admits that he's nervous the majority of the time he is cutting. "If I’m not sweating during a cut, if I’m not a little uneasy while I’m performing, I feel like I’m not really pushing myself. I have a [general] idea of what I want the end result to be, but I also am not going to know how close it is until I’m done. And that’s the real adrenaline rush for me. The pressure to perform on the spot is just crazy.”

Right now, Spanakos is perfecting his 3-D technique — an extremely complicated fade that essentially enhances the design without being flat against the head. “Many people who do line work enhance their fades with paint or computers — I don’t. So in order to create the 3-D look, some barbers came out with this way of fading that creates that dimension,” Spanakos says.

As for the most important lesson Spanakos has learned so far in his career, he says it was simply that there is a time to talk and a time to listen: “I’ve learned is to never pass up an opportunity to listen to somebody else’s story. Before moving to L.A., I was living in a dumpster. Now, I live in Southern California talking to you on the phone — and it’s because of hair.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Buddy Porter.
Buddy Porter
Known For: Wash-&-Go Perfection

It's a truth universally acknowledged that many of us are just downright lazy when it comes to hair — but we still want it to look damn fine. That's where hairstylist Buddy Porter comes in: He has perfected the “wash-and-go” cut — a technique that consists of dry cutting hair and working in seamless layers so the hair "flows" together naturally, no styling required.

Porter, who used to work with Anh Co Tran and Johnny Ramirez (famous for the lived-in hair trend) recently relocated to Meche Salon in Beverly Hills and now works with celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham. In his new digs, Porter has stayed true to his wash-and-go technique, saying that he cuts everything dry so that he’s able to see where the hair falls naturally and see if there are any cowlicks that come into play.

And while layers might still feel like a dirty word for those of us who lived through the "Rachel," Porter promises these are nowhere near that look. “If your hair is straight, the layers are almost invisible, but when your hair moves, you’ll see them come out," he explains. "If you air-dry your hair, the layers will give you more of a style.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Colombini.
Jonathan Colombini
Known For: Extensions

When it comes to extensions, Jonathan Colmbini is the guy to call — and according to the man himself, he comes rollin' in with a “kit that is three feet deep of hair.” As Kylie Jenner’s go-to, you know he’s good with a weft. Extensions may have been frowned upon years ago (considered "faking it" or promoting unrealistic ideals), but not anymore. Celebrities have made wearing fake hair so commonplace now — and are refreshingly upfront about it — that as long as it’s done well, changing up your hair with some extra strands is completely the norm.

Colombini says, “I’ve been working with Kylie for a little over a year now — she’s so young. I was taught by old-school hairdressers and with that generation, it’s really like, ‘old ladies wear wigs.’ So the fact that this 19-year-old is wearing wigs, she’s changing the wig game. It’s just more socially acceptable now." He adds, "Your hair is your accessory to wear every day, so why have it look the same?”

He notes that even if you’re playing with wigs, you have to make sure they look real. The key is going with a lace-front. “There is no way around it, because that’s when you notice the wig is fake, in the front and the hairline.” He adds that having 100% human hair is important, so it will reflect the light like your natural hair would. For extensions, choosing which type — since there are so many — should depend on your lifestyle.

“There are so many different kind of extensions," he says. "There’s tape, there’s the beaded ones, there are the wefts that you sew in — so depending on someone’s lifestyle, each one of those extensions are more suitable than the other.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Chris Appleton.
Chris Appleton
Known For: Innovative Hair Accessories

Chris Appleton
is always looking to break his clients out of their comfort zones, noting that the difference can really just be in the details. Appleton, the newly appointed brand ambassador for Color Wow, created the hair-ring trend that took the red carpet by storm after he styled Rita Ora’s hair for the 2014 GQ Awards. At the time, he actually used earrings on Ora’s braids to add a little bit of a “punk vibe” into the look. Since then, he’s intertwined various rings into his client’s styles. With everyone from Shay Mitchell to Christina Aguilera on the roll call, Appleton is also finding time to develop his own accessories line.

He says that you should never let fear overcome you as a hairdresser. “We live in a society now that everything is on social media and everything is kind of out there. So with change, you have to embrace that fear. Sometimes, when you’re doing something different, [the client] is nervous, as well, but I always encourage you to own the look you do.”

Appleton also notes that just because you’re pushing boundaries, more isn’t always better. “You have to keep it in that boundary so it doesn’t become too much like, for example, Christmas. If the outfit’s a lot, and the makeup’s a lot, they can pull the hair back to balance it out. It’s always about less is more in the right situation.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Allen Thomas Wood.
Allen Thomas Wood
Known For: Non-Layer Layers

For countless women (and men), getting a haircut can actually be terrifying — you want your stylist to only trim off the dead ends and nothing more. That’s where Allen Thomas Wood shines — he knows how to create and sculpt a cut to ensure it looks its healthiest, but will never turn “just an inch” into three.

Wood is well-known by the who's-who crowd of New York City (he works out of Bumble and Bumble’s downtown salon) and frequents the backstage areas of the Fashion Week scene, where his low-maintenance techniques are constantly in demand.

When it comes down to a haircut for his clients, to achieve this non-layer layering style, Wood says that he prefers using a razor to get the look, but depending on the client’s hair type and texture, he will also go in with scissors if necessary. “There are two elements that come into play with this kind of cut. The first thing that I like to address is the length of the cut. I go in and take out weight from the hair. Once I’ve released some weight, typically using a razor, I can go in section-by-section, establishing the length and adding in shorter bits, which essentially creates an interior layering.”

Wood also added that this type of "effortless" hair also can be easily hand-styled and he likes to teach his clients how to do that in the salon, since getting an at-home blowout to look salon-quality is easier said than done.

If the client has straight hair naturally, Wood says the products are key to start, and recommends using Bb. Grooming Crème or anti-frizz serum in towel-dried hair. Then, comb through the hair to detangle the strands and take large sections and loosely twist them. Run the blowdryer up and down that loose sheet of hair that is twisted and just cup the hair in your hand and as you’re blowdrying — but Wood notes you shouldn’t handle it too much or it will get frizzy. After you’ve dried each section of hair, shake the pieces out from the roots and you’re left with an easy blowout, no brush needed.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marcia Hamilton.
Marcia Hamilton
Known For: Creative Locs

Marcia Hamilton
knows how to help her clients work with the hair texture they’ve got — and get heads to turn in the process. Hamilton works with everyone from Willow and Jaden Smith to Taraji P. Henson, and is fluent in extensions, locs, weaves, and everything in-between.

Speaking of Willow and Jaden, Hamilton has recently been working with the duo frequently and has been thankful to be able to creatively showcase their locs, notably in an editorial for Interview magazine. “I love it, because you get to get an idea of the two of them — they both have dreads in the images, but they both have different styles, so I think it’s a cool way for people with dreads to see how you can play around with different shapes to create different looks for both male and females, even with the same type of dreads.”

As for how she constantly innovates? “Everyone has their own technique or their own way. I feel like I listen to people when they explain different things about how they go about their hair — they’ve had their hair for a long time and they know it best, so I learn a lot form talking to different people.”

Currently, Hamilton is playing around with crochet needles on her clients — yes, you read that right. “It’s called latch-hooking, and is used to do extensions, or braid extensions, or dread extensions," she explains. "Back in the day, there was a popular style called the inner-lock — it has kind of fizzled out now, but there’s a resurgence of the inner-lock technique, but using just loose hair. I like trying out new tools and seeing what they’re able to do.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Laura Polko.
Laura Polko
Known For: The Coast-To-Coast Wave

Laura Polko
was one of the pioneers of the coast-to-coast wave — the completely touchable curl style that actually started on the streets of New York, but is now synonymous with L.A. Polko credits this to the fact that her L.A. clients wanted the “New York thing, but on the West Coast." Now, her home base is in L.A. and she’s working with everyone from Chrissy Teigen to Olivia Munn.

As for the wave that made her career? “Less is more. You don’t need to section out with a comb and make sure everything is perfect. I’ll section out some parts, but not really in a way that is step-by-step. The uneven sections [are what] make the uneven wave."

She also advises against brushing out those sections before you curl them. As for the actual curling, Polko has a few words of wisdom. "Switch up the way you curl — curl mostly away from the face as you work, but do a few pieces towards your face. And always, always hold the ends of the hair so you don’t wrap them into the iron. Otherwise, you’ll end up with prom curls.”

If you want the one product that Polko lives for (and Chrissy Teigen keeps in her bag), it’s L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art True Grip hair powder. “It will give you this texture that’s unlike any product I’ve ever used.”

Polko says her hard-and-fast hair rule is to never get too comfortable. “It’s like a relationship. If you’re too comfortable with your boyfriend, you’re like, ‘Well this is going wrong and this is going wrong.’ And then, yeah, you’re not trying anymore. It’s the same thing [with hair] — anything that you truly need to work at requires you to actually put in the work.”
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