As some of you may already know, there's only one stylist that I trust to let loose on my curls and that is Lindsey Hughes, Curl Whisperer. Lindsey is truly an intuitive stylist and she has a holistic approach to cutting, colouring and styling curls which I love. Lindsey has recently returned from her exciting trip to the US where she completed Deva training at the DevaCurl Academies in New York City and LA. She was interviewed by Margo Steeden about her training and working with curls for a 2-part article. Part 1 was originally posted on British Curlies and you can read it below. Watch this space for Part-2 on the Deva Training.
Meet the UK's first Advanced DevaCurl Stylist Lindsey Hughes, The Curl Whisperer – Part 1
By Margo Steeden
I first met Lindsey Hughes when I attended Lorraine Massey's charity event at Puro Hair. I remember chatting with her and noticing how enthusiastic she was about working with curls. She told me how much she loved doing curl-by-curl colour because it gave her such creative freedom and got her really excited again about colour. I watched her at work on one of her clients, who told me afterwards that she would never have her colour done by anyone else because the results are 'so natural and look like her own colour' – and I had to agree, her hair did look wonderful.
When I heard that Lindsey was now cutting hair too and that she is one of the first international students to have completed training at the DevaCurl Academies, in both New York City and Los Angeles, and is now an Advanced Deva Stylist, I had to find out more. So we hooked up and Lindsey gave me the low-down on the trip, the training and how her love of curls was born.
Margo – Well it's really great to be here Lindsey, in your salon in Birmingham. I'd first like to ask you how you got into hairdressing and why you chose it?
Lindsey – I watched my gran having her hair done by a mobile hairdresser and I was fascinated by it. I got a 'Girls World Styling Head' and I used to plait the hair. I didn't know then how much I would grow to love it but I knew it was something I could do. At 15, I got a job in a local hairdressers and it just went from there. It's only in the last few years that I've realised how passionate I am about hairdressing – I absolutely love it! In my teens, I started off thinking it was just something I could do – I was young and stupid and into lots of things – but in the last couple of years I've properly fallen in love with it. I can honestly say I've never felt as strongly about anything as what I am doing right now.
Margo – And that's working with curls, so how did that come about?
Lindsey – I was working at Puro Hair at the time and a woman from Oxfordshire rang in and asked if anyone in the salon would be interested in doing Pintura highlights on her hair, like in the Curly Girl book. I was the Manager of the salon at the time and I spoke with her and said I'd be happy to do them for her, to try it, because I love doing new things and so I asked her to come in. And so she came in and that's where my love of curls was born really. The whole 'painting colour onto the hair' and doing things really naturally, I loved, and the salon was Organic and I just fell in love with the whole concept. I wanted to get away from using foils anyway and we'd been moving toward using new techniques in the salon, like Ombre and Balayage but I just loved the freehand nature of hand painting colour onto the hair.
Margo – Did you learn about any of these techniques for colouring hair whilst studying hairdressing?
Lindsey – No, there's nothing freehand; nothing that's artistic during training, in school. It's all about processes – you don't stand back and look at the whole picture with someone's hair, it's all about doing something very methodically rather than thinking outside the box. It's been a revelation to look outside of the way I was taught – it's changed the whole concept of hairdressing for me.
Margo – How long did it take you to adapt to these new techniques? Did you have to do a lot of experimentation or did it feel more natural straight off?
Lindsey – It definitely felt more natural than using foils. I've never liked foils – the whole mechanics of weaving a piece of hair, applying colour to a section, folding foils etc. I'm more creative than that and foils always felt so mechanical. Applying the colour freehand, lets me see shape and form – it just lets me be creative. So I kept on experimenting with the technique and then my clients would say “Lindsey, you need to start cutting hair. We know you can do it.”
And then my client from Oxfordshire, the one who prompted me to start my whole curly journey with colour, asked me to cut her hair. She was like “please, please, please cut my hair.” But I kept saying no as cutting was not something that I had planned on doing. But she said “please just practice on me, I want you to do it”. So one day, she finally persuaded me and I decided to do it. I just grabbed a curl and started cutting and my client had the 'Curly Girl' book and she was saying “not like that, like this” and so I tried again and cut a few more curls and she said “oh, that looks better already” and so together we did it! She brought her little girl in with her the next time and so I practiced a little on her and then my clients got to hear about it and wanted me to practice on them!
It did feel really alien to me at first, to hold scissors, no comb and no sectioning of the hair. I could see shape and form and I've worked at Vidal Sassoon so I did a lot of training on precision cutting – and structure and shape is the basis of any good haircut. If you're taught the fundamentals of hairdressing and understand structure and shape – a lot of people don't, they just cut hair – then you can do freeform cutting. And now, my client base has gone from 10% curly to around 80% curly and I love it!
Margo – Wow, that's incredible! And I see that you are also working out of London now too.
Lindsey – Yes, I work in Birmingham, three days a week and one day a month in London, which I'll be increasing to two days a month from the New Year*. I combine hairdressing with being a mum to my little boy, so I've chosen to work part-time at the moment. My decision to start working out of London came about whilst I was chatting to Michele (Michele Scott-Lynch – founder of Boucleme) one day. She said that to get my name really out there then I should have a spot in London. It took a while to find the right salon – a lot of salons I contacted found it really odd that I only wanted one day a month – but then I found a salon in London called Redhed It's a great location in central London, just 5 minutes walk from Goodge Street tube station.
Margo – Let's talk about the article you wrote for British Curlies where you said that curl specific training is not taught to students of hairdressing and you wanted to change that. How would you like to see the training that hairdressers get improve?
Lindsey – Well as a starting point, a basic, I would like to see every student learn how to wash and style curly hair. But I really think there should be a learning unit on curly hair, specifically, covering all aspects of curly hair – washing, cutting, colouring, styling and caring for it generally. Then students get the opportunity to really work with curls and they might say “I really like this, working with curls, and I want to specialise in it.”
Margo – You also mentioned in that article that you are looking for like-minded stylists to train; those who love working with curly hair but would like to learn more. Are you still looking?
Lindsey – Yes, I am still looking but I want them to come to me, to find me, because I want people who are as passionate and enthusiastic as I am about curly hair. I have been approached by a few people – some already trained hairdressers and some, as yet untrained. I have been speaking with one woman who is very enthusiastic, just fantastic, but she is not a hairdresser. I would love to work with her so hopefully she will get the training she needs and then we can take it from there. Initially, I thought I could teach non-hairdressers from scratch but quickly realised that people need the foundations that they have learnt in hairdressing so I am looking for trained stylists. They need to have a good understanding of hair, maybe even have done some training with Vidal Sassoon. I will certainly be advising every stylist that I help, that I share knowledge with, to get some training at Vidal Sassoon so that they have a real understanding of structure and shape and learn precision cutting. Then you can free-form. This is all new territory for me and not something I am taking lightly. I want to get it right and work with passionate people so if there are stylists out there who love curls and really want to learn more then I would love to hear from them.
* Lindsey now sees clients every Friday in London.