Celebrities love their hair stylists, don't they? It’s not surprising that Jennifer Aniston has stood resolutely by stylist Chris McMillan since the Friends days. Her hair is deemed by many to be one of her most winning features, and McMillan played no small part in this, creating that much-copied '90s classic, ‘The Rachel’.
The two are fast friends, much like Gisele and her stylist pal Harry Josh, who looks after her sensational mane. We can only imagine that being famous makes having a hairdresser buddy almost essential, what with the cycle of fashion shows, premieres and awards ceremonies to attend, but what does the job actually entail? We asked one hair stylist with a clientele including A-list actors, TV stars and models what it’s really like...
What’s the best part of your job?
Being able to make people smile and feel good about themselves.
And the worst?
Probably the long hours and travel.
What are the grossest aspects of the job?
Sometimes a client will come in with head lice. Horrible.
Have you ever had a client throw a tantrum?
When I was first starting out there was a client who sat down at the basin, shaking and gripping the arms of her chair. She started asking a million questions about the shampoo and I snapped and said: “I’m not getting paid enough for this – just let me wash your hair!” After that she liked me and wouldn’t let anyone else touch her hair!
Do you find that your clients confide in you?
Absolutely – almost like being a psychologist, you have to make your client feel good about themselves. Plus you might be the only person they’re close to who’s not in their social circle, so they feel they can tell you anything.
What has been your career highlight?
Shooting in the Maldives... and looking after Kim Kardashian.
Do you go to celebrities’ homes to cut their hair?
Yes, all the time. I’ve been to some incredible houses – estates, really.
Have you ever had any truly horrible clients?
Yes, though only one comes to mind in all my years as a hair stylist: one very diva-ish reality TV star who, because she comes from money, decided to speak to everyone on set like they were all her personal staff. It was the rudest thing I’ve ever witnessed and I blacklisted her; I couldn’t work with her ever again.
How are you at handling diva-ish clients?
I’m actually really good! A lot of that behaviour comes from their own insecurities and you basically have to make yourself their bitch! That makes them feel safe. And at the end of the day, they’re paying you.
Do you have any hair horror stories?
A makeup artist I know was shooting on a tropical island and the model he was working with wanted to dry her hair after getting out of the water. They had a heater on set and the girl decided to dry her hair in front of it, which was a really stupid thing to do as it went up in flames. She was okay but a couple of inches got burned off.
Do you ever have to talk a client out of a bad hairstyle?
Absolutely; if a client breaks up with someone and they are emotionally traumatised, often they’ll want to cut all their hair off or go for a drastic new colour. I always talk them out of it because they’re emotional. Having a big change when you’ve been through something like that is never a good idea.
What’s your personal favourite women’s haircut?
Long and layered.
Do hair stylists ever give each other cuts?
Yes. I have a very conservative haircut and in the early noughties another stylist offered to give me a trim. I sat there watching my hair go flying off and when he was done I had a sort of mohawk/mullet. It was really bad because I couldn’t even say anything, he just went ahead and did it.
Do you ever give your friends free haircuts?
No. I’m generally so tired after work that the last thing I want to do is someone’s hair.
What are your working hours like?
I did a TV commercial recently and it was a 14-hour day. Standing on concrete killed my feet. It's exhausting but it’s very varied – sometimes I’ll be working with a client for a red carpet event, other times it’s commercials, or shoots. I love it all and love the variety.
Do you have a famous celeb client at the moment?
Yes, but I can’t tell you.