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How A Celeb Stylist Makes Sure His Clients Get Perfect Hair

two red carpet updos

Being a celebrity is all about playing the part—choosing the dress, the hair, and the makeup that’ll get you commended for the creative work you do and keep your star factor on the up and up. While the famous person stands in front of the flashing lights on the red carpet, the men and women behind the look often don’t get the credit they deserve.

Matthew Collins (@matthewstylist) is a L’Oréal Professionnel artist and rising red carpet go-to for A-listers. His chic, never-too-polished styles are the favorites of ash blonde and brunette models, influencers, and ahead-of-the-curve stars everywhere. Wondering what goes into a celeb stylist hair consultation, the most important consultation of all? Scroll down to get the piping hot tea on how to your favorite influencers pick the looks they wear.

back of woman with red carpet braid

The Outfit Rules The Look

Whether he’s referred by another client or a stylist, Collins arrives at every red carpet consultation with a mission: Make the celebrity—and as many other people as possible—happy. Celebs move a lot of dollars, particularly during awards season when they can be juggling a jewelry loan with a makeup endorsement and a borrowed designer gown. Collins’ first job is to understand how hair fits into the picture by understanding the outfit.

As a celebrity, your hair is always sending a message—so Collins likes to be sure about what they’re saying.

“If it’s a high neckline like turtleneck or full neck to it, [the hair is] usually going up,” he says. “But sometimes it can be so dressy that the person wants a down, chill wave to take away from that.”

As a stylist, it’s Collins’ job to make his clients look good and feel comfortable. At this point in his career, however, he’s earned a reputation in the industry for a certain kind of modern look. Instead of worrying that they’ll end up with middle school dance ringlets, they can sit back and allow him slightly more creative flexibility. He likes to ask questions to get a better sense of their taste before beginning any style. 

“What jewelry are you wearing? Is it an earring that the stylist is going to want you to show? How did you wear your hair recently?” Collins explains. “If it’s a new client I always ask the same question: What do you not want to do today or what have you had done to your hair that you don’t feel comfortable with?”

Once the initial conversation is over, it’s time to get serious.

back of hair with black bow red carpet french twist

Learn Who’s The Priority

Once Collins is sure about the dress, he can move on to the details. On every red carpet, the celebrity’s team has a few parties to please—think jewelers, fashion houses, and the like. If a particular model needs to show off a beauty label’s new cobalt eyeliner, it’s up to Collins to brush her hair away from her face in a way that looks intentional (and still beautiful) Talking about all the elements helps him figure out what style will look best.

“Maybe there’s an eyeliner happening, and then I choose their jawline structure and the direction that I bring the hair up to kind of extend that eyeliner or that feature...It kind of pops that whole look," he says.

black of woman with half up black bow red carpet style

Add The Details

Collins is pretty aware that many stars look like they have a million versions of the same chignon or waves on the red carpet. When you see those photos, however, there’s something you can’t appreciate: The back of the head. If the face-framing pieces make the hair perfect for the paparazzi shots that will land on every gossip site’s juicy front page, the back is the most intimate part of the style because only the people who are actually at an event can see it. It’s where Collins does his best (and most savvy) styling tricks.

“You look at the back and to me, those little unique interests are not for the public, it’s for that celebrity [who] is best friends with so-and-so,” he explains. "That’s the little thing their friend might see and be like ‘oh my god, that’s so cool’ and then they’re asking who their hairdresser is...It’s kind of like my little card.”

One of the elements that sets Collins apart is his attention to hair accessories that don’t have to be expensive as long as they look it. The day he spoke to, the stylist was fresh off a $650 shopping spree at a craft store to buy up every single kind of ribbon to stash away in his stylist kit.

“I have half of my suitcase filled with stuff that I only use 1 percent of the time and it weighs like 40 pounds. I almost never use but when I use it, I need to have that,” Collins says.

The best part? Because the ribbon is inexpensive, he doesn’t need to hoard it. He can leave every accessory used with his clients as a sweet thanks-for-working-with-me gift. Not even celebs are immune to thoughtful freebies.

back of red carpet updo

Communication Is Everything

If there’s one lesson Collins stands by for perfect hair, is that communication is the key to looking gorgeous. Even after all the back and forth with teams and agents, there’s one person who has to love the completed look: the celeb herself.

To avoid any last minute meltdowns over miscommunications, Collins has adopted a style that relies on back and forth. If he’s crafting a top knot, he’ll hold the hair in place to show what it might look like. When the base of the style’s all finished, he snaps iPhone photos of the back for the star’s perusal. No surprises mean a happy client.

“Restraint is so important in my job and comfortability,” Collins says. “They have to be comfortable with their look, they gotta feel like themselves, and don’t push it.”

The next time you plan a hair transformation, remember Collins' simple tips for a successful collab. Who doesn't want to live life like an A-list client?

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