Photo Credit: Brendan James
Behind every gorgeous celebrity is one hell of a glam squad. And for Beyoncé, Jessica Simpson and a few other megastars (ahem, Madonna) that team has one person in common: colorist Rita Hazan. For nearly 20 years, the pro has helped craft the hair colors for these and other beauties, and in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, she’s dishing on how you can get — and maintain — the perfect hue, too.
If there’s one word that sums up the N.Y.C.-based pro, it’s: perfectionist. When Hazan started in the industry at age 17, she assisted top colorists for six years as opposed to the usual three to four because “I knew the complexity of hair color, and wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before I was ready to take on the world.”
Upon her promotion, Hazan was tasked with taking Mariah Carey caramel for the cover of her Butterfly album — a job that would not only transform the star’s look, but the colorist’s career as well, she says. “Mariah’s hair was brown and I took her a lot blonder than she’d ever been. It was a dramatic change,” says Hazan, recalling the pressure she felt. “I mean I grew up listening to Mariah Carey, so I was like, ‘This is the coolest thing,’ but [I had to] leave that at the door and do my job.”
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Hazan then went on to give Jennifer Lopez a new color. “She had really dark hair and I gave her those honey highlights she’s known for. Then, it was like any time someone wanted an image change, they would come to me.”
In the years to come, Beyoncé, Christie Brinkley, Madonna and Jessica Simpson would become regulars in Hazan’s chair. The pro, who sees Hollywood’s A-list as well as everyday women in her midtown Manhattan salon, also credits her impressive client list to her philosophy on hair care.
“Keeping the hair healthy was a major thing for me, and I think people recognized that and they saw that the hair always looks good. I mean you have to imagine, these women blow dry flat iron, curl their hair every day. It comes down to maintenance and care.”
Dying to dye your hair? Here are Hazan’s color commandments:
Your hue should suit you: “A consultation is the most important part of the process. I find that when clients describe what they want, they don’t say what they mean! I have to listen, pay attention to their body language and go with their personality. Like, with Jessica Simpson, I feed off her energy. I know if she’s in the mood to be ‘Jessica blonde,’ which is what I call her baby blonde with some golden pieces in it, or make a change.”
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But seriously, be realistic: “Use celebrities as inspiration, but do something that’s right for your lifestyle. With Beyoncé, the placement of her highlights is very important to me, so I do homework. I go to her concerts and I watch how her hair moves in the wind! But it’s important that your hair color be customized to you. Look for images of women who has the same skin tone and eye color as you so that you’re confident the color will work.”
Invest in proper products: “The reason why I created that was because it was the number one question people were asking me was, ‘What could we use in between appointments to maintain my color?’ I suggest using shampoos and conditioners that have been created specifically for color-treated hair. They should be hydrating, sulfate-free and have UV protection. I’ve always given my clients homework, which is to condition their hair overnight twice a week either with a mask or an oil. Even J.Lo has gotten into the habit of doing treatments.”
Color takes regular upkeep: “I see every one of my clients once a month, if not more. Beyoncé likes to change it up constantly! But if you’re not onstage like her, you can go a bit longer between touch-ups. Try a root concealer to cover grays, so you can go weeks without coloring your hair. But the truth is, your color is going to fade. That’s why I created a gloss that you can use two to four times a week before conditioning to help with vibrancy. You should have beautiful hair all the time.”
For more tips from celebrity colorist Rita Hazan, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands now!
What celeb hue has served as inspiration for your hair color? Share below.