An Interview with Hollywood’s Hairdresser to the Stars, Jen Atkin

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Photo: Courtesy of Jen Atkin

What do all the best heads of hair in Hollywood have in common? Jen Atkin. She’s on the speed dial of almost every celebrity, including the Kardashians, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, and Rosie Huntingon-Whiteley, and is undoubtedly the most in-demand hair stylist to the stars. Savoir Flair caught up with her during her recent trip to Dubai to talk about all things hair, from her favorite products and styling tips to the craziest places she’s had to manage manes.

You’ve worked with some of the biggest celebrities in the world. Who has had the best hair to work with?
That’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is! There’s no way I could pick one person. I’ve loved working with everybody, but for different reasons. They all offer a certain something in their own way. There’s not one person I enjoy working with more than the other, because they all have amazing hair.

What’s the craziest request you’ve ever had?
I once cut a client’s hair and they asked me to save the clippings so they could put it in the backyard to make a bird’s nest. It’s a very LA and hippie thing, and definitely the weirdest request I’ve ever gotten. That and blowing out hair on private planes, which still freaks me out!

Summer is about to hit the UAE, which means extreme heat and humidity. What would be your top tip on how to handle summer hair problems?
I learned a great tip in London once, which is to take a boar-bristle brush when you’re done with your blowout and use cool air to blast it over the top part of your head. It will calm down any flyaways or frizziness that you have. Braids are also so helpful when you’re dealing with humidity and your hair gets really big.

Who is your ultimate hair icon and why?
I think Sophia Loren had really amazing hair. Jane Birkin – another great head of hair – and Brigitte Bardot, of course. I tend to really reference the 70s. I love that soft, flowy hair that looks effortless.

Is there someone you haven’t worked with yet that you’re desperate to?
Sade. It’s so weird, I know, but I’ve always thought she’s just so classy and cool. I’ve been really lucky, because I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of people I never thought I would, but Sade is definitely someone who I would love to work with one day.

Whose locks would you love to give a makeover to?
Oh wow, that’s a really interesting question. It’s funny because, when I go through magazines, I never really look at someone and think, “Oh I need to give them a makeover” – apart from some reality TV people like Kate Gosselin, who has this mullet, momsy hairdo. Clients come in to the salon and I will suggest little tweaks I think would make them look better. That’s fun for me too, watching women transform. A bad haircut can stress you out and ruin your life, but a good haircut can make you feel like you can conquer the world.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever done someone’s hair?
In Cannes one year I was being taken from yacht to yacht on a dingy and doing blowouts for the events. That was weird for me. I was like, “Woah, I’m sitting here in the middle of the water, in the South of France.” That was a crazy moment. I’ve been in airport bathrooms a lot, giving people touchups before they go out and get attacked by paparazzi. I’ve done hair all over!

Debunk the biggest hair myth you’ve heard.
When women think they need to get their hair trimmed every four to six weeks for it to grow. That’s such a myth because hair grows from the roots. It’s an old wives’ tale that, if you cut the ends off, your hair will grow! I always say good hairdressers are the ones who don’t ask you to go back every few weeks, because they don’t just want your money. For me it’s all about taking vitamins, having a good diet, and making sure your hair is healthy from the root so it grows fast.

I always say good hairdressers are the ones who don’t ask you to go back every few weeks, because they don’t just want your money.

What do you predict will be huge in the world of hair in the next year?
I always notice that there’s a lot more fringe in the fall; it’s a good time to cut a fringe because you’re wearing your hair up and wearing coats and turtlenecks. In winter, I feel like women don’t really want to ‘do’ their hair, so it’s the best time to experiment and try things like fringes, up-dos, and braids. I also think – this is my prediction – that in the fall women will be growing out their lobs. Everyone has gone shorter, and I think they’ll all be growing their hair out.

What’s one hair product you can’t live without?
I have to pick two! The Sachajuan ‘Ocean Mist’ for prepping hair before a blowdry, because it helps to give hair memory and hold, and then the Oribe ‘Dry Texture Spray’ for when your hair’s dry and you just need a little bit of oomph. It’s like dry shampoo and hairspray had a baby; it’s my hero product!

Jen Atkin works with Belle Femme when she’s in Dubai. For appointments and bookings, visit www.bellfemmeme.com.

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