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Robert Hallowell, the Kitchen Beautician, Reveals His Secrets to Getting Red Carpet Hair

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The always fabulous Robert Hallowell shares his secrets on how to get Red Carpet hair just in time for Awards Season. Plus: the dish on his favorite Hollywood stars to style.
It may feel like the stars walking the red carpet are light years different from the rest of us watching them from afar, but in reality, they have one main edge over the rest of us: fabulous on-call stylists and enough hours in the day to get their look just right. Not only do Hollywood divas have bad hair days, they have the same everyday hair problems the rest of the world suffers from. Thin, gray, textured, heavy… you name your hair dilemma, stylists like Robert Hallowell have seen – and fixed – it. We asked Robert to share some info on the ladies he’s styled recently, as well as some of his top secrets that transform everyday people into megastars ready for a big night at the Academy Awards. After you read this, you may be ready for your close-up, too!
Hollywood Styling Secret #1: OPH

Robert’s number one styling tool is something he likes to call OPH… "Other Peoples Hair"! “Nearly everybody wears a little ‘private secret’ hair in Hollywood more often than not! A weft here or there to add length, volume, or hi-light even so I've always got my bag of OPH just in case!” So what’s in that secret bag? “Miscellaneous colors, texture and lengths I can yank out a bit and toss it into the hairstyle to save the day!”

Styling Secret #2: Fillers

The second secret to big event hair is another way to make it bigger. Big night = big hair! Stylists carry an arsenal of tools Robert likes to call “fillers” that enhance, extend and expand the hair you have to make it look more like the hair you want. “These are things like colored fibers that are sprinkled or sprayed onto the scalp to create a shadow or these fibers create a little ‘puff’ as well for volume…I've also got a compressor so I can gently mist some color onto the scalp and or hair to give some texture for volume or add color to scalp bringing the skin tone closer to the hair color so you ‘think’ you see more hair than skin!” Ahh, the magic of Hollywood!

Styling Secret #3: Dry Shampoo

Teasing and backcombing are rough on hair and they aren’t easy techniques to get just right. They’re also often impossible to brush out afterward, making them a less-than-ideal solution. Robert’s solution is dry shampoo. “I spray dry shampoo through the hair, blow some air through the hair and brush well (and sometimes repeat ), then style. Dry shampoo coats the hair which gives the appearance of ‘more’. It also gives the hair some texture, so if you're putting it up, it will not be slippery and hard to handle.” Robert’s favorite dry shampoo? “Believe it or not, it’s Suave! And it’s less than 4 dollars!”

Styling Secret #4: Shortcuts

Even starlets and their stylists get pressed for time when getting ready for a big event. Robert tells us that when he’s faced with a last-minute style, he always keeps it simple. Trying too hard to be creative/different is too risky without enough time…you're bound to be on the ‘miss’ list the next day which is no fun!”

Robert’s mantra in this instance is: “Less is more!” He cautions that when you’re pressed for time, the worst thing you can do is try too hard. Note what is inherently beautiful – whether it’s the texture, color or shape of the hair. “Use that as the foundation to inspire and build the hairstyle. I have found it will creatively flow into a better and more beautiful look.”  

Styling Secret #5: Dealing with Gray Hairs

Stars span all age ranges from the very young to the more seasoned actors. When their hair turns gray, many people are at a loss as to how to style it. I like to call gray hair ‘non-pigmented hair’ because that is what it is void of the color molecule.” When hair loses pigment, it changes texture as well as color, and that becomes a styling challenge. “Gray hair is often coarse or frizzy so I'll go thru the hair with a flat iron, not to flatten it but to gently smooth the hair.” After flat ironing the hair, Robert then curls and styles it. Flat ironing temporarily flattens the cuticle to give it more shine and a better overall appearance.

The Dish: Who’s Robert Styling Now?

Robert has styled many beautiful celebrity heads over the years, including some of his favorites like Geena Davis and Lucy Liu. So what is he up to right now? “I've been working on the New Ricki Lake Show…it's been amazing… eye opening….shocking! Aside from the number-one star ….Ricki…I’m styling real people! People who have intimate personal tragic life stories to tell the world. It's my job to style their look and make it styled yet realistic, so the world is able to hear their story as opposed to making a immediate decision about the guest based on how they look.”

The Dish: Lucy Liu’s Golden Globe Awards Gown

Lucy Liu’s stunning Carolina Herrera gown at the Golden Globes turned heads and made waves at the Golden Globe awards. Lucy and Robert have worked together a lot over the years, as Robert says “do'n hair, having fun, and eating…we both like to eat!” As for style, Robert is a big fan of Lucy’s look, on camera and off. “I love Lucy…she has a great sense of style red carpet or concrete sidewalk NYC! She has a great walk!”

So when Lucy appeared in the gorgeous flowered floor-length Carolina Herrera gown, Robert was all props for her look. “I love Carolina Herrera more and more each collection. Her fabrics are the most beautiful in texture, quality and color! I think that gown had all of those qualities: it was beautiful, bold and fresh! I loved her entire look. Her make-up was soft, beautiful and very un-made-up and I loved the slight ruggedness of her hair! It all worked in my book!” Robert felt it was especially appropriate for the Golden Globe Awards. “It’s the one award show of the season that’s more of a party than not. It’s the perfect event to take fashion risks. I think Lucy did take a risk here with a comfortable confidence and she came up a winner!”


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