But, what does it take to become a number one colourist (and what’s Beyonce really like), we asked Rita to give us the inside scoop.
There’s not many people that can say they’ve looked after the hair of Mariah, Beyonce and J-Lo, but Rita Hazan is responsible for the silky, honeyed locks of all three. To say she’s “made it” in her industry is an understatement.
She hit the top, thought, “what next?”, then naturally, she opened her own salon and designed her own haircare range (“I wanted to give women that salon performance, at home,” she says).
What’s been your biggest work challenge?
“I think the most challenging thing that I ever had to do was four years ago when Katy Perry came in, she’d been dying her hair black for years, and she wanted to make it pink – that night. I think we stayed up all night doing it. It took hours and hours. We kept bleaching it, and I kept doing treatments in between, but I finally got her hair to be pink.
And then after that, we coloured it blue and then purple and I think really that’s what sparked this pop-colour fantasy hair, which is cool. But that was the most challenging, because she had long hair and I didn’t want to destroy it to give her that colour, so we had to do it really skillfully.”
What would you say to someone wanting to make a drastic change?
“It happens a lot with celebrities because whatever they’re working on, they need it right away. And it’s usually last minute. But usually you shouldn’t expect one hundred percent results in one shot, without damage.
You want to push it as far as you can push it, but make sure whoever your seeing, knows there’s a line to draw and it’s about still keeping it healthy. I say have patience because you want to get there but you also want to have pretty hair. If you’re willing to cut six inches off your hair – fine. But, if you don’t want to do that it’s not the right way.”
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?
“The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to follow my gut and stay true to what I do. If I just follow that all the time, then I’m fine, but if I start listening to outside information, it doesn’t work for me.”
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 the best piece of career advice you’d give to others?
“The most important advice I can give, is education. Find somebody who’s amazing at their craft, figure out how to be their assistant and stay their assistant for a long time. A year or two is not enough to learn and be amazing. A lot of people say to me: ‘I want to be a celebrity colourist’, I didn’t start out thinking that way, I just wanted to do the best that I could do. I do it because I love it. I don’t do it because I want to meet a certain celebrity or make tons of money. Because I trained for four or five years, I was ready for that point when somebody was like ‘Mariah wants her highlights done and you’re the right person to do it.’ Once you’re in front of a celebrity or somebody who has a lot of clout, then you have to be prepared to give them whatever they want. You have to be skilled enough to know how to do it, or say ‘that’s not really realistic,’ or ‘this is a better way of doing this’. So if you don’t one hundred percent know your skill, then you’re never going to be in that league, because it just doesn’t work.
Remember that most of these celebrities have worked for years and years before they got their breakthrough, they’ve been doing this for a long time, too. They know what they want and they know that there are people who can give it to them. They want somebody who knows what they’re doing and who is not easily persuaded to do something that’s not going to work. So I think for somebody who’s starting out, I’d say learn. Learn from somebody good. Take the time. Two years is not enough. Three years is not enough. At that point you’re still at the beginning stages and then you can really learn the intricate part of it and the detailed part of what you need to know for the next level.”
What’s been your favourite hair look to create?
“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’s been the proudest moment in your career?
“Creating the root concealer. There was nothing like it on the market. There was a need for it and nobody was creating it – it took me four years to make it happen. It’s bulletproof, it will not come off until you shampoo it out. So, it was a proud moment for me.
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 colour and make it easy. So it’s a foam, it’s lightweight, it has a little bit of colour but a lot of shine and a little conditioner in it, so you can do that at home yourself. All of the are paraben-free.”
What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment?
“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 8 years ago [the pair still work together now], 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.”
What’s your best tip for keeping coloured hair healthy and in good condition?
“Condition your hair. The weekly remedy I created is my favourite. Masks are glorified conditioners so I wanted to create something that actually worked. It’s a two-step treatment, so the first step has a high pH balance, so it opens the cuticle, it has moringa seed oil, jojoba oil, rice proteins. The second step closes your cuticle and seals all those ingredients in so you feel like your hair is silky and shiny and smooth from one time.”
What hair colour do you think is the next big trend?
“I think that it’s going to be more of natural colours, so that it’s not artificial looking. I think that it’s about using the right colours and having multi-dimension to it. If it’s solid, you have to add highlights to give it dimension – but not too light, not too fine, not too thick – so you need to have the perfect balance of hair colour to make it look expensive.”