The man who wants to make every day a good hair day

Don’t blame your hair, blame your hair cut, says celebrity stylist Luke Hersheson in his new book

Pioneering celebrity hair stylist Luke Hersheson.

Pioneering celebrity hair stylist Luke Hersheson.

 

The introduction by Sali Hughes to Great Hair Days & How to Have Them, the new book by pioneering celebrity hair stylist Luke Hersheson, is the hair story of many women I know, but with the happily ever after at the end that most of us are still seeking while pushing tufts out of our eyes in exasperation.

Hughes writes of what seemed like her hair’s pathological inability to hold a style, or to ever behave or look how she wanted it to throughout her teens and adult life. Only the temporary lacuna of a professional blow dry would give some respite and, after a few days, it would be back to unmanageable again. London salon Hershesons, and Luke Hersheson in particular, were the turning points in her quest for good hair. Hersheson gave her a cut she could style herself, and showed her how to style it, and she has had hair that she loves ever since.

Most women have a complex and evolving relationship with their hair, and Luke Hersheson knows it. He and his father, Daniel, are widely recognised within the beauty industry as innovators who create new hair trends rather than following them. The Hershesons London salons boast an array of celebrity clients, and, between them, Daniel and Luke Hersheson have worked on some of the best known heads in the world.

Luke was responsible for Sienna Miller’s famous short choppy bob – the bob that launched a million bobs. It was Luke Hersheson who brought straighteners to the UK in the early 2000s and popularised the poker straight hair that we now associate so utterly with that period.

He recently opened an unprecedented beauty hub in London’s Fitzrovia, which, as well as an incredibly chic salon, also includes the option of manicures by the London masters of pared back nail art, Dryby; facials by cult luxury brand Sunday Riley and Kardashian-approved brand Dr Barbara Sturm; waxing and light therapy services; and microblading by brow artist of the moment, Suman Jalaf.

Working in both editorial or session styling and within the salon throughout his career, the younger Hersheson credits the influence of his father for his tendency toward innovation: “Growing up, I saw my dad constantly change the way he worked and it always fascinated me. He kept things fresh for himself. I look at the way some other session stylists talk about salon work as tedious because they’re always doing the same thing, but it can be as interesting as you want. You have to change it up and be ahead of the curve.”

Myths and snake oils

Great Hair Days is innovative in that it dispenses with the mysticism and snake oil so common to the beauty industry and advocates investing in your hair cut and basic products, like shampoo and conditioner, but using fewer in general. The book manages to find an honest tone and note of pragmatism that is neither patronising nor overly complicated, but then Hersheson is a stylist who is fully aware of what women want from someone in his position, and dispenses advice in the book that, if anything, goes against the usual spiel of the industry.

“Hair should be approached in a simplistic way. It doesn’t need to be as difficult as people think. Women are often intimidated by salons and sick of overpromises. They feel let down a lot. The beauty industry turns on ‘newness for the sake of newness’ and I dislike the whole cycle. Everyone has a cupboard full of unused stuff when there’s no need for it.”

His aim, Hersheson says, is what any woman would love to hear from her hair stylist, “to make people’s lives easier”; he suggests that everything revolves around the hair cut. It can facilitate or entirely prevent easy styling and achieving the look you want. “A good hair cut is the single most important element. A client who wants, say, a big blow dry, but has long, heavy hair of all one length probably isn’t going to get exactly the look they want, because the cut isn’t there to support it structurally.”

Refreshing read

Hersheson’s relaxed approach makes the book a refreshing read. It specifies what you need and what you don’t need, how to identify and choose the right stylist and the right salon for you. Do not, he cautions, choose the closest or most convenient salon. Research the ideal place and invest in the best person you can afford; someone of whose work you have seen examples. Rather than the finger-wagging tone that women might be accustomed to from hair stylists, the book presents a lot of information with maximal simplicity, and encourages getting the style that you actually want. By all means, ask for and listen to your hair stylist’s opinion, but you don’t necessarily have to take no for an answer either.

“I’m interested in a non-prescriptive service. When I trained, so many rules were drummed into us, and there can be a lot of ‘no’ and ‘can’t’ when it comes to hair and styling. I just don’t believe in that. Everyone can have anything they want within reason.” If you’re struggling, it’s not necessarily your hair, Hersheson’s book suggests. It is probably just that your hair cut isn’t doing what you need it to. Though it shouldn’t be, this is a comforting revelation.

Great Hair Days & How to Have Them from Ebury Press, is available now at €25.

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