Five Minutes With: Hair stylist to the stars Zoe Irwin

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Hair stylist to the stars and ghd ambassador Zoe Irwin has worked with more celebs than you can shake a pair of straighteners at. Here the hair guru tells The Beauty Inbox the secrets to her success.

On her earliest beauty memory
My earliest beauty memory is Estee Lauder lipstick. My mother always had the most beautiful gold lipsticks in her handbag and she would never leave the house without one, even when she was just popping down to the shops. Since then, it’s always been etched in my mind that beauty is lipstick.

The irony is that Prescriptives got in touch a few years later and offered me the chance to create my very own lipstick, the “Zoe” and I was able to design it in the Estee Lauder House. It was so wonderfully bizarre to share that news with my mum.

On getting into hair styling
I was just about to start a college course when I got a job with my best friend’s mum who owned a salon as I wanted to earn some pocket money over the summer. I completely fell in love with the ambiance there and I gave up my college course to study hair.

I worked for a small salon group and then went on to study in London at an academy where I took every course they had. I’ve carried on studying ever since and have also worked and studied in France. I was then lucky to be taken onto Guido’s team assisting on fashion shows such as Givenchy and Prada. I’ve found that having a really rounded education in hair technique and history has really helped to shape my career path.

On her day-to-day schedule
Gosh – I don’t know how to answer that. It’s always incredibly varied, one week I’ll be doing a beauty shoot for Tatler which involves turning up and creating five to six different hairstyles, then another day I’ll be working at the ghd academy where I’ve designed the graduate styling programme. I’ve also started working more on the fashion forecasting side of things where I’m looking into trends and deciding which of these will be covered by ghd, sourcing images and designing mood boards.

On her top hair styling products
I have three key go-to hair products which I use. The first is the ghd air hairdryer; it creates such a variety of hair textures from super smooth to undone and beachy to voluminous, bouncy blowdries. Second is Kerastase Masque Intense, a super hydrating hair mask which I use to prep my clients hair before styling and I also use it daily myself. My final must have is the ghd platinum, it’s the perfect tool for super sleek hair and I love it for creating this season’s luxe undone hair trend.

On her style icons
I just love Chloe Sevigny – the way she puts things together, she is just the epitome of uncontrived cool.

On her most memorable campaign
I spent a really amazing week in Paris with P Diddy and Cassie Ventura. We were onsite to shoot a video at Versailles which was totally closed off for the filming – it was such an amazing experience to be there without anyone else around. I then prepped her for the Givenchy launch party in Paris, and then flew with her to London where we shot for a variety of magazines. It was just a mind-blowing experience working with someone as incredible as P Diddy on such a one-to-one level – we’d be working through the night, creating new looks for Paris Fashion Week.

On her signature hairstyle
My signature hair style is very undone. It’s “pretty hair” which has a lightness to it, I call it dream hair. I prep the hair using ghd style root lift spray and blow it in lightly with a bristle brush which adds a youthful texture. I then wrap random sections around a ghd curve soft curl tong to create an undone wave and then gently use my fingers to create a soft texture throughout.

On her daily skincare must-haves
I’m obsessed with Environ and I use everything from their cleansing oil to AVST creams. I also love Emma Hardie Amazing Face cleanser and This Works No Wrinkles Time Dose mask.

On her desert island make-up products
My top three desert island make-up products are Elizabeth Arden double wear mascara, Benefit They’re Real push-up liner and Laura Mercier cream blusher. If I could have a fourth, I’d go for Mac Lustre drops.

On her favourite cities
Paris just because it’s such a beautiful city and it makes you feel like you’re in a film. And Marrakesh – I adore the vibrancy, the textiles, the colours. I always end up buying amazing and unusual clothes there. Then again, you sometimes can’t beat London, especially the smaller boutiques on Dover Street. Liberty’s is one of my favourites as well.

On upcoming projects
I’m really enjoying focusing on the trend forecasting side of my work more. This year I’ve been training as a street photographer and I’m now shooting my own images which I’m incorporating into trend forecasting for ghd.

On the worst hair mistakes
There is nothing worse than really bad hair extensions which are unblended, the wrong colour and a different texture – they can look really horrifying. If they’re too thick to match the natural texture of the hair they really do end up looking like spaghetti.

On her proudest achievement
I won the hair icon award which is the highest level in our industry a couple of years ago in the “Most Wanted” awards. I’ve also won hairdresser of the year. Ghd actually has two ambassadors who have won this award.

On the best advice she’s ever been given
Early on I was told that you only ever get out of life what you put into it – that’s always inspired me to study hard and be dedicated to my craft.

On advice to up-and-coming hair stylists
It’s really helpful if you can get started as early as possible with an established brand such as a salon which can offer you a strong education. It’s important to do your research and know the industry so you have an idea of which area of hairdressing you want to go into.

- as told to TBI


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