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Backstage Beauty: Testing the Best Summer Runway Looks with the Help of Celebrity Stylists

Backstage Beauty: Testing the Best Summer Runway Looks with the Help of Celebrity Stylists

You might be chatting with friends about the latest runway coats to hit Neiman’s, but autumn is still far away—far, far away. Okay, not that far, but there’s still another solid month of summer left, and personally, we intend to soak up every last drop of the sunshine. But—confession time—our hair is getting a little worn out. With the heat there are only so many summer hairstyling options and on top of that you can only wear a bun so many times before people start to notice. So what’s a girl to do? We scoured the spring runways for inspiration and talked with a few pros, hoping to find better styling options to work some new life into those overdone summer locks. We even tested them all out to make sure they were easy enough for a fun day in the sand or surf. Now we’re just hoping there are enough sun-soaked days left in the season to wear them all.

Photo Credit Aveda via Flickr

With almost 20 years of hairstyling under her belt, fashion week and editorial Redken stylist Jenny Balding knows hair. Her work has been seen on the runways of Marc Jacobs, Betsey Johnson and Proenza Schouler, plus she has worked with celebrities including Heidi Klum, Miranda Kerr and Kendall Jenner, so we had to get her take on one of the chicest hair trends this season—the ponytail. She gave us a how-to on one of our favorite looks from the Osklen SS14 collection. “Create a low side part on whatever side suits your face best. Then blow dry very smooth and straight,” she explains. Personally we love the low side part, but middle parts were also all over the runway. “Separate the sections in front of the ear and leave them out. Then sweep hair into low ponytail at the nape, keeping it really smooth as you go,” she says. “Take one of the side sections and cross over the base of the ponytail and pin right underneath. Repeat the same technique on the other side.” By now in our test run everything was looking pretty spot on, and we basically vowed to try runway looks more often. “Mist with a gloss spray for the ultimate sheen!” Balding adds. (Plus a little sun protectant never hurt anyone.)

Photo Credit Aveda via Flickr

As a senior stylist at New York City’s Cutler Salon, Balding specializes in cutting and styling for both men and women, and lives by the motto “bringing runway to reality.” Taking the best looks from runways worldwide, she recreates the looks on clients and salon guests—and now she’s bringing them to us. Another style to up our ponytail game is the braided look from Stella McCartney SS14. Balding suggests beginning the same way, “Blow dry very smooth and straight. And make sure you direct the hair off the face to encourage the hair to stay sleek.” Seems easy enough. “Sweep into low ponytail at the nape, then take a small section from the underneath of the ponytail and create a tight braid,” she explains. This was admittedly a little more awkward; we needed to start our mini-braid on the side—largely due in part to our butterfingers. “Wrap around the base of the ponytail and pin.”

Photo Credit Valentino via Facebook

While we were blazing this trail of on-trend ponytails with Balding, we couldn’t leave out Valentino’s now iconic bubble tail. “Why not create small bubbles in the tail? You can go with a really high ponytail like Blake Lively at the Met Gala or really low at the nape seen at Valentino this season in Paris,” she asks. So when asked which we would prefer to style—we had to admit we wanted both. For Lively-esque hair she suggests we “smooth hair into a really high ponytail just under the crown or wherever most suites your profile. Make sure you secure tightly to keep it anchored and not loosen over time.” When replicating the look at home we really suggest it’s tight; after a couple fumbles we realized the brushing, backcombing and addition of more bands can really loosen your look. “Brush your ponytail so it creates a smooth surface on top but then back brush the underneath of the tail to create a puffy texture! Then slightly smooth again to finish,” she adds. “Then create small bubbles all the way down to create your look as desired.” To copy Valentino’s runway look “start with either a low side or center part and smooth into really low ponytail at the nape. Again, secure tightly as this is your anchor.” Then work those mini bands in however you see fit.

Photo Credit TIGI Professional via Facebook

One of our favorite brands to hear from after fashion week is the Catwalk by TIGI crew that shares how-to’s on some of their best runway looks. Our favorite by far for summer was the twin-tail braids from Mara Hoffman SS14—without the extensions of course. “Prep hair with ample mousse, working it from roots to ends and brushing through with a paddle brush while creating a defined center part from hairline to nape,” explains Catwalk by TIGI Global Creative Director Nick Irwin. “Starting with the left side of the head, gather hair and begin French braiding directly behind the ear, securing the end with a small elastic. Repeat on the right side.” This part, we’ll admit, was not easy. French braiding behind your own head is never simple, but after a while we got the hang of it—sort of. “Using a colorful woven belt, bind the two braids together in a small section at the nape of the neck and pin in place, tucking away the ends.” Aside from the French braiding this was pretty easy to replicate—and even if it’s a little messy it just looks like you've been playing in the surf, so we consider it a win-win.

Photo Credit Aveda via Flickr

We also had the opportunity to pick the brain of Larry Sims a fifteen-year hairstyling veteran that began his career as a choreographer for musicians, but after discovering his true passion for hair, his celebrity clientele began lining up for his styling chair rather than dance in his studio. Clients include Queen Latifah, David and Victoria Beckham, Christina Millian, Gabrielle Union and Mary J Blige. At Ann Yee SS14 we saw some deliciously funky braiding we just had to try. “Start off by having straight, fresh, blown out, clean hair. Take a dime size amount of Go Pro Gro Cream Oil (smooth ‘n shine) and apply from root to tip for shine and moisture,” Sims suggests. Then, using a rat tail comb, create two sections of hair from the temple of head, to the center of the back of the neck- secure the middle section with a clip. French braid both sides of sectioned off hair and bind the braids with small rubber bands.” Again the perils of French braiding almost tripped us up, but a tight braid is slightly easier to accomplish. “Drop the middle section of your hair by removing the clip. Part down the middle and twist back both sections on the top of your heard into the middle crown of your head,” Sims explains. “Secure with mini rubber bands and bobby pins.” This looks is definitely edgy without attempting a trendy side-shave.

Photo Credit TIGI Professional via Facebook

A celebrity spokesperson for Got2b Products, Sims works with celebrities, collaborates with international stylists, styles editorial shoots and even styled our favorite, Lupita Nyong’o the night she won the Oscar. At Miami Swim Week we saw a few styles we couldn’t leave off the list and Sims was just the guy to give us the how-to. To get the braided beach Mohawk at Suboo, Sims suggests we “start off by establishing a natural wavy texture by applying a salt-infusion waving spray to wet hair. Allow hair to air dry.” (Admittedly, air drying our hair was the hardest part of this look.) “Once dry, take the top middle sections of your hair, using the arches of your eye brows as placement guidelines. Loosely, French under braid, the top of the crown hair; secure with mini rubber bands,” he explains. “Take the two remaining sections of hair, on both sides and roll upwards away from the face, allowing tendrils to fall organically on either side of the face. Then secure with a volume hairspray.”


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


How SNL Star Heidi Gardner Went From Cutting Hair in L.A. to Cracking Jokes on TV

My obsession with hair started when I turned 12, right around the time Gwen Stefani਍yed hers hot pink. After that, I would try out a new color every month. By the time I got to college, I was cutting hair for all my broke friends. I was a little lost with what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought, “Maybe if I drop out and move to L.A. to do hair, that’ll sound cooler than just dropping out.”

When I got to L.A., I went to cosmetology school and landed a job at a salon in Studio City, which was a bit conservative, but I had a few clients who liked to experiment. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, working on hair extensions, and I thought, “I’m making extensions for the stars. Like, maybe Paris Hilton will use these. This is as good as it gets.”

I quickly figured out what makes a good hairstylist. No. 1: They should be well versed in hair and know their shit. No. 2: They should give their honest opinion. And No. 3: They should push you that little bit further to try something you wouldn’t have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser, so in terms of that second point, I probably wasn’t as honest as I should’ve been. I can take a risk on my own head, but when someone tells you they want bangs, that can be scary.

As a stylist, you become somewhat of an armchair therapist, and when I was transitioning to comedy, that became really useful. I had a wealth of characters in my face every day, and I𠆝 get ideas for sketches from random things that clients said. It made me a better listener too. The salon is a place of confidentiality. Sometimes you𠆝 have a client crying in your chair, so you learn how to be there for someone.

I𠆝 been at the salon for about five years when my husband [writer Zeb Wells] took me to a Groundlings improv show one night, which was exciting because I was obsessed with SNL and knew that people like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri had started there. Watching the skits, I was blown away. Melissa McCarthy was still in the Groundlings, and I thought, “Why is she not the biggest star in the world?” Of course, her career took off a few months later.

After the show, I was just like, “How do I do that?” I called my brother, and he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this all our life. I’ll pay for your first Groundlings class.” So he signed me up. At first I was doing it for the bliss. Then I moved up to the Sunday Company, which performs an SNL-style show. You’re writing new material every week, buying your own wigs and costumes. It started to take up all my time, but it was the most fun I𠆝 ever had.

Eventually, I knew I needed to fully commit. I was lucky that the boss at my salon was supportive. My clients, on the other hand, were confused. Their reaction was like, “OK… but are you even funny?” And I said, “Well, I know I’m not a funny hairdresser, but I think I’m sort of funny.”

About a year and a half later, in 2017, [SNL producer] Lindsay Shookus came to the Groundlings to watch a show. And shortly after that, I was asked to audition for SNL. It was a lot of pressure. At the time, the only thing I could compare it to was taking my cosmetology test — which I𠆝 also freaked out about. But it must’ve gone well, because about a week later I got the call from [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels bringing me on.

The characters I write now are usually based on someone I’ve seen in the world. I’m always secretly snapping pictures of people on the street. Once your sketch makes it onto the show, you meet with wardrobe and hair, and they usually give you free rein. I’ve loved working on the looks of my characters, like Angel, every boxer’s girlfriend Goop staffer Baskin Johns and Bailey, the teen film critic, who has this flat-ironed wig she hides behind.


Watch the video: LFW backstage Vlog - Pringle + Ashish. Lexi A-N (October 2021).