Trevor Sorbie is a hairdressing legend. With over 54 years in the game, he’s not only transformed the tresses of countless celebs, including icons like Grace Jones and The Beatles, but he also has a best-selling haircare line, luxury salons around the world, and has trained some of the best stylists in the business, including Eugene Souleiman and Angelo Seminara. Known for his bold, brave, and artistic hair creations, it’s also no surprise that Sorbie was awarded an M.B.E by The Queen for his services and dedication to his industry. Impressive doesn’t quite cut it.
Sorbie’s contributions to haircare now land in Dubai, with a super-slick, shiny new hair salon in the heart of The Dubai Mall is amazing. Located in the swanky new Fashion Avenue, it boasts the best British hairdressers, a VIP suite, sumptuous décor, and a refreshments lounge. Whilst over for the opening, Savoir Flair got to sit down with the legend himself to find out all his top hair tips and tricks. From how to fight frizz (finally) to what to do if you want to switch up your style, read on to find out how to get your best head of hair yet.
What made you pick Dubai as the place to open your new salon?
Well, they picked me! They were looking for a brand with a big name, and I wanted to take it to another level – and the only way to do that was to have investment, so it fit perfectly. It just happened! I love Dubai; I come here with my wife for winter sun and have been here many times – so when we were approached, my hand instantly went up. It’s the perfect location for us. It’s a major world hub, it’s so diverse in terms of people and nationalities, and it attracts people from everywhere. I came from nothing, so to be sitting here today in Dubai, where I’ve opened a salon, feels incredible.
Have you faced any challenges with opening the new salon?
What we have to understand is the mentality and the culture, which takes time. There are things you can and things you can’t do – which I hugely respect, but it’s a bit of a learning process for us. We brought over an English team, and they’ve all been trained specifically in the way that I train people. I said to my new partner that that’s one thing I won’t compromise on. How we hire and train our people has to stay in place, otherwise – no deal! But luckily, that’s what they wanted to invest in – the quality they know we offer. To work for me, you have to undergo what’s called a ‘trade test’ – which means you have to do five commercial haircuts and present them to us. If we think you’re right for us, we train you for six weeks, then there’s an exam on 10 models, and I personally oversee that test. If you want to work for me, you come through me! And I believe that same philosophy can work here.
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to change up her hair?
Take a photograph of what you want. A lot of hairdressers disagree with this, but I think it’s the best thing a woman can do. If you came to me, for example, and said “I want a change”, that tells me nothing, really. If you say, “I want my hair to be curly”, well – there are eight different ways you can curl hair, and each looks completely different! You can perm it, roller set it, pin curl it, tong it… so I need to see the type of curl you want.
Color is very important, and changing color is a big ordeal. Again, a photo helps – as if you say red, well there are countless shades of red! You need to be more specific.
Of course, a consultation is key. The only way to really understand what someone wants is to talk to them. Your hairdresser should be asking you questions.
Whose hair would you love to do?
I always dreamed of doing Madonna’s hair, even though it probably would have been a bit of a headache! Back in the day when she was reinventing herself all the time, and hair was a really important part of her look, that would have been amazing. But I can’t imagine she would have been an easy person to work with! Grace Jones really impressed me as a person. She gives off this harsh, scary image – but she was really so lovely. I created that flat-top style she had.
Women in the UAE have to deal with extreme heat, humidity, and constant air conditioning. What is your top tip for protecting hair against the elements?
My top tip is to use a heat protector. It can be sprayed on wet and dry hair and defends each strand against UV rays, humidity, and — in some cases — chlorine. My favorite range is the ‘Colour Protect’, which has a ‘Multi Protect’ spray that contains UV filters and green tea, plus chlorine protection that is perfect for the UAE. I always say that people should take care of their hair as much as their skin!
On the subject of humidity, what is the best way to fight against frizz?
Always use a serum! Sometimes they can be daunting to use, but a small amount suitable for your hair type can really be a miracle. They aren’t all heavy and greasy! I strongly recommend a thorough consultation before any service is carried out in my salons, and the same can be applied for products, as each of my team members are fully trained and can advise on exactly what your hair needs to thrive.
Hair loss is a huge problem for women here. What can we do to prevent it?
Water plays major havoc in the UAE, so if possible use a filter on your shower or use bottled water every other wash. Also, tying hair back too tight can make it weak around the hairline and nape, causing snapping in the vital areas that frame your face. My rejuvenating products strengthen the hair cuticle and minimize hair fall, but don’t forget — we naturally lose around 100 hairs a day, and if someone has their hair tied up daily, without a good brush, it may seem that more is being lost.
Debunk the biggest hair myth you’ve ever heard.
That the more you brush, the healthier your hair. Although using a really high-quality natural bristle brush can distribute natural scalp oils down the hair shaft, over-brushing can also cause frizz, static, and breakage. My advice is to only brush your hair when you really need to, and to always start from the ends working up to the roots in order to avoid creating knots while running the brush through.
What is your top tip for achieving beautiful volume and lift?
I have a few! I would suggest using a volumizing product that is focused at the root. I have a ‘Root Boost’ spray in my ‘Thicker & Fuller’ range which is ideal for creating root lift. Drying hair upside down creates natural root lift and is a great trick for longer hair, which is heavier at the root. In terms of your cut and style, layered hair is more likely to achieve volume as it’s lighter than a heavier, one-length cut.
Any DIY/home remedies you think really work for hair?
Hair is like your skin, so my main advice is to always be kind to it, and to invest in it like you would your face or skincare regime. I’m sure there are some home remedies that won’t do any damage to your hair, but I stand by using products that have been specifically developed to meet your hair needs and to improve condition.
What is your top hair tip?
Find the right hairdresser and stick to them! Wherever you live, go to a salon that trains its own staff. So many of them are not properly trained, but if you go to a salon where they invest in their training, the quality will be significantly higher. Go in, say you want to chat to a stylist before booking, and they should allow that to happen. If you talk to the hairdresser and you know they get it, then go for it. But if you can tell that they aren’t really listening or interested, or that they don’t get you, don’t do it. Find another option. You want to have complete trust in your hairdresser. A lack of communication will always lead to a disaster.
What do you predict will be big in the hair world in the coming year?
My Artistic Director created a new, softer fringe for our latest collection which was inspired by Jane Birkin. We call it the ‘French girl fringe’. It’s a softer way of wearing a fringe, and because it cuts into the hair less, it’s a great way to trial a fringe for the first time.
Complete the sentence: To me, beautiful hair is…
Healthy and shiny! On a personal note, I love hair that is long, shiny, and cut very square across the back.
To book in at the new Trevor Sorbie Dubai salon, click here or call (+971) 4 388 8440.