In case you missed it: Lucy Hale showed up at Sunday's 2014 Teen Choice Awards with an amazing twisted French braid that just might be our favorite hairdo of the summer year. And the woman behind the ultra cool style was none other than Kristin Ess, the same mane mastermind who creates Lauren Conrad's famous waves.
Yes, Kristin can do classic glamour, for sure, but it's really her one-of-a-kind updos that have us spending hours in the mirror trying to replicate the woven artwork. Thankfully, Ess is kind enough to share tons of tips and tricks on TheBeautyDepartment.com (a site she co-founded with Conrad). And as if that's not enough she also takes fabulous shots of her work—which super helps when we need a closer look at, say, Debby Ryan's braided chignon.
But those are just a few of her more recent highlights. Kristin has been in the beauty game for quite a while and had a lot to share about her time in Hollywood:
How long have you been a hairstylist?
18 years, I started when I was 15.
Where did you get your start?
I started as an apprentice at a hair salon when I was a sophomore in high school. I would go to school from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then to the salon from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. I got school credit for working and graduated from high school early. Never looked back.
What was your big break?
I don't really believe in big breaks. But my first "celebrity client" was supermodel and actress, Amber Valletta. She lived down the street from a salon I worked at in Santa Monica and she would let me get her ready for events. The first time was for the Women in Hollywood luncheon. I trimmed her hair and styled it. A couple months later, I was just casually flipping through my normal stack of magazines and her hair from that day was written up in three of them—Vogue, Cosmopolitan and People—I almost fainted! I was high on life for so long after that.
What was a near-fiasco that you've had to deal with?
I've had to do Lauren's hair in a car on the way to an event while the driver was swirling left and right through the canyon roads. That was a bit stressful and nauseating. But nothing compares to your luggage not showing up when you fly somewhere to do a client in another city. Always have a drugstore backup plan!
What items are always in your kit?
My Elchim 2001 blow dryer, hot tools curling irons, GHD flatiron and everything ever made by Oribe. That brand is changing the game. I am honestly discovering new ways to do hair because of them. (And no I don't work for them.)
What are a few of your favorite red carpet looks that you've created?
1. Lauren Conrad: I loved this moment so much because earlier that day we had taken Lauren brunette with some soft honey-toned highlights and didn't really tell anyone. It was so much fun to see her walk the carpet and have it be a big surprise! I got to attend the event that night and I honestly just had the best time watching people freak out about her not being a blonde. It was great.
2. Lucy Hale: I loved this half-updo so much. I think it's one of my favorites because it's just classic, shiny, healthy looking and not fussy. Lucy literally has hair that belongs in an ad campaign and it's all her own. In addition she's got such a beautiful face and I thought this framed it well, without overcrowding.
3. Debby Ryan: I love everything about this look, mostly because Debby said she felt good in this chignon before she headed out. It was half braided and pulled back into a chignon and the other half was messy and down. As a hairstylist, you can tell when someone truly feels confident in their own skin and she did this night. How can you not love being a part of that?
What new item are you currently obsessed with?
I've been really into Living Proof Restore shampoo. I use it every time I shampoo and I'm am in love with it.
What is your favorite drug store buy?
At Target and most of the drug stores you can now get Sexy Hair Soy Leave-In Conditioner, which I swear by. It changes everything.
What about your fave high end splurge?
Harry Josh Pro Tools hair dryer and flat iron.
What's the best thank you gift you've ever received?
An incredibly generous client gave me a full set of Alexander McQueen luggage, which I will have forever.
Who have you been working with the longest?
It's hard to nail down exact dates but I'm pretty sure it's Lauren.