How did you start your journey as a hair colorist?
I always knew that hair was something I was good at. I grew up in a family of beauty, my grandmother used to make homemade wax and wax us. It woke up this part of me that beauty is important. I started doing my family’s hair and noticed it was something I was good at.
I went to beauty school right after high school, I was very young. At the time, it wasn’t really a career for women. I went to Oribe after graduating and said, ‘I’m not leaving here without a job.’ And I got a job that day. I assisted for a really long time. I was young, and I wanted to make sure I knew everything about color before I went on my own. They say you can do it at home, but it’s chemicals, and a lot of reactions can happen, so I wanted to be sure that I knew exactly what I was doing.
From then I got promoted and worked as a colorist, it was the early ’90s so a lot of chunky highlights, I wasn’t a big fan of that, so I started to do my own thing, dramatic, but not too chunky. One of my coworkers saw that I was doing something different. At the time, Mariah Carey was getting divorced, coming out with a new album, and needed a different look. So I did her hair, and then I ended up doing it for five years. I gave her a new image.
Where do you get inspiration?
I don’t follow trends, but I follow fashion and the world and what’s happening because I think that beauty has to be compatible with that. Social media has nothing to do with real life. It’s two different categories. You have Instagram hair which is unrealistic and filtered and then you have fashion hair which is usually beautiful and natural and a little bit of fantasy but its wearable. So I’m more into high fashion than Instagram.
What’s been your favorite hair look that you’ve created?
I created the J-Lo highlight, years and years ago and she still wears it now. So it’s stood the test of time. What made it iconic was that, for the first time in forever, an ethnic girl was able to have blonde hair and it wasn’t brassy and it wasn’t orangey.
What made you want to start your own hair care line?
When people told me I should have my own product line, I thought, 'the world doesn't need another shampoo.' If I'm going to do one, it has to be necessary and 'me.' I was doing a lot of traveling, interviews for magazines and seeing clients at the time, and I heard this one complaint constantly: What can women do in between appointments to cover their gray? There were no good solutions for it, so I decided to do it myself. It took me four years to create this root concealer. There was nothing on the market like it.
After the root concealer, I came up with the glosses, because when anybody comes to the salon, they always want a gloss. (Gloss, toner and glaze are all the same thing.) So, everybody always wants that because it keeps their hair shiny and I was like they should be able to do it at home to maintain their hair color and make it easy. So it’s a foam, it’s lightweight, it has a little bit of color but a lot of shine and a little conditioner in it, so you can do that at home yourself. All of them are paraben-free.
The coolest thing was when I got a phone call saying Beyonce wanted to go blonde and she wanted me to do it. I guess over the years I’d worked with so many people and made dark hair blonde and she just wanted to have that blonde. This was like 10 years ago, and she’d been doing it for so long, she already had her team. Usually people like that, they’re very loyal, they don’t change so it was very exciting that she wanted to do something different and wanted me to do it.