The secret behind Beyoncé's, Jennifer Lopez's and Mariah Carey's famous locks? Two words: Rita Hazan.
Since honing her skills under the tutelage of hair god Oribe, Hazan has become the go-to for celebrities looking for the perfect color.
"You don't want your hair to wear you, you want to have hair that compliments your skin and eyes," says the stylist.
Beyond such celebrity clients as Michelle Williams, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, perhaps her biggest claim to fame is her root concealer, a powerful secret weapon for women -- and men -- with gray hair. And now her latest and greatest is the Ultimate Shine Color Glow Collection, which takes away that dull faded look to hair.
From her midtown salon, Rita put down the color and talked to us about celebs, hair care and what it takes to launch your own line.
Q: How did you get started?
A: When I was younger I was always obsessed with my hair, and exploring the hair industry seemed very natural. Right after high school I went straight to beauty school and from there I went to work for Oribe, where I started as an assistant. I trained with Brad Johns and learned everything from him. I eventually got promoted and my career took off.
Q: How did you start working with celebrities?
A: I got promoted in the early '90s, and one of the stylists working at the salon started coloring Mariah Carey's hair. Then Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson came to me. If you wanted to change or create a new image, I became the go-to colorist for celebrities.
Q: Katy Perry just dyed her hair green. You've worked with her?
A: Yes, I made it purple and blue. She started the entire trend. I had no idea it would last this long. Nicole Richie just made her entire head lilac, too.
Q: Do you prefer blonde or brunette?
A: I like both. For me it's about the tone. Blondes don't like to be brassy and brunettes don't like an orange color, and I know exactly how to make their color right.
Q: What was the biggest celebrity transformation you did?
A: Jennifer Lopez. When I first saw her, she had dark hair and I felt like it was too harsh for her personality and skin tone. I decided to create a honey-highlighted hair color for her and people went crazy over it.
Q: What products have you launched?
A: The line launched in March 2011, and the first product was the Root Concealer, which covers gray hair or grow-out in between salon visits. In March, I re-launched my Ultimate Shine Color Gloss Collection. The glosses add vibrancy and silkiness back into hair. The lightweight formula boosts shine and helps to refresh hair color's true hues in between salon visits. You never have to worry about dullness or fading until your next appointment.
Q: How many times a week should you wash color-treated hair?
A: The more you color your hair and blow it dry, the drier it gets, which is why a conditioning treatment is so important as it restores those lost nutrients. You can use a leave-in mask or an oil, and sleep with it overnight -- it's similar to putting moisturizer on your face.
Q: Is hair color from a box safe?
A: Professional hair color at a salon is healthier on the hair than boxed color. This is because the directions for boxed hair color are as simplistic as possible, in order for it to be easily done at home. In the boxed hair color they offer a great treatment; however, it doesn't make up for the lack of ingredients and dries out the hair.
Q: How do you become Rita?
A: A lot of hard work, passion and you have to sacrifice a lot to focus on your work. When I was younger my friends would be going out to dinner and parties, and I would get a job and wouldn't end up meeting them. It looks glamorous, but it's a lot of sacrifice of your time and personal life. You can't do it if you don't love it -- it's a full-time job where I am always on call. If Beyoncé wants her hair done, I do whatever I have to in order to make it happen.