It’s not every day that you get to sit down with a celebrity hairstylist with a client list including everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Chrissy Teigen to the Kardashian clan. And did I mention she’s a powerhouse businesswoman? In addition to working as a top hairstylist, she is the CEO of Mane Addicts, a platform for premium hair-related content including stories, how-to videos, expert workshops, celebrity contributors, Mane University, which holds master classes allowing attendees to learn from the most influential beauty artists of our time, and Ouai Haircare, her own line of haircare essentials. I had a major fangirl moment when I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with her, and was especially excited to find out we had something in common — she was raised in Hawaii! Read our interview below to find out her favorite thing about Hawaii, her hair tips for humid weather, and details about her brand new hair products on the ‘Ouai.’
Early in your career you studied under top hairstylists Andy Lecompte and Chris McMillan. Do you have any tips for other artists just starting out in the business?
Yes! Go to a Mane University class. Also check out Mane Addicts because we’re doing a lot more classes for people. The reason I started doing it is because I felt like there was a lack of education out there, so I’ve just been lucky enough that my amazing, talented friends in the business like Tracey Cunningham and Scotty Cunha have come here to share their information. I would say that education is the number one thing that made me feel like a confident hairstylist, so never stop learning.
You’ve accomplished so much in your career so far, is are there any other boxes you still want to check?
Definitely. Mane Addicts and Ouai are my babies that were born in the last two years, but what’s exciting for me is the potential of what they have. For me I would love to see Mane Addicts and Ouai go big on a global scale because we have so many hairstylists that don’t have the information that they need to really better their careers. With Ouai, I’m just always making hair products that I, as a professional, know and love. I’ve been doing hair for 16 years now, so for me it’s all about creating products that will help women to embrace their own natural hair and not feel like they are hair-shamed or that they need to have Kate Moss’ hair from an ad. I want to help give women the power back to do their own hair and feel pretty.
Speaking of taking charge of your own look, how do you suggest someone choose the right cut for their face shape and look?
The best thing to do is Face Swap on Snapchat! I’ll have a client take a picture and they’ll hold up the model or whoever they like and have them swap it out on Snapchat and see how it looks. There are tons of apps out there that you can use to see if that hairstyle is going to look good on you. It’s the easiest way to get a sneak preview.
Because not every hairstyle is for every person, right?
Right, and not every hair color is for every skin tone. I have a lot of clients who will come in and bring me a picture of a model and I have to tell them, “well first of all that’s a wig, so your hair will never do that naturally.” I think the biggest thing is to play around with pictures and see what works.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only bring three hair products, what would you bring?
It would be my Ouai Hair Oil, Olaplaex, because when your hair gets fried from the sun it brings it back to life, and I would also bring duckbill clips so I could at least make a wave while my hair air-dries.
The humidity is real here in Hawaii — do you have any hair tips for humid weather?
Before doing any curls, I usually prep the hair with a really good medium or strong hold hairspray. The best thing to do is just to remember to use a smaller curling iron that you normally would because it makes a tighter curl and by the time the humidity gets to it, it will be the loose wave that you want it to be.
Can you give us a sneak peek of any new Ouai products coming out soon?
[Yesterday] we launched my Matte Pomade, which is really great to show piecey-ness with layers. We also came out with a Medium Hairspray which is great for humidity. Also my Curl Shampoo and Conditioner is finally out. It’s the last of my five shampoo and conditioners to come out because we were really perfecting it. I just wanted to give girls with curly hair the power to rock their curls and give them the moisture that they need to feel good about their curls. All three will be in Sephora in September.
A few fun facts about Jen…
What’s your Starbucks order? Iced dirty chai with coconut milk.
Favorite TV show of all time? Anything Bravo, like The Real Housewives.
Favorite thing about Hawaii? SPAM Musubi. I grew up on Oahu in Laie, so I’m all about Zippy’s, anything plate lunch, chicken lau lau, kalua pork, all of it. It took me three years to lose my pidgin accent! That’s also why I know how to say Humuhumunukunukuapuaa.
Scroll down for more photos from the masterclass and the reveal of my new Chrissy Teigen-inspired lob. Spoiler alert — I’m obsessed with it. Be sure to check back on my blog tomorrow for more photos from my Mane University and Maui getaway.